Oldboy (2003)

oldboy_6Oldboy [올드보이] (2003)

Starring Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Kang Hye-jung, Ji Dae-han, Kim Byeong-ok, Oh Tae-kyung, Yoo Yeon-seok, Woo Il-han, Yoon Jin-seo, Oh Dal-su

Directed by Park Chan-wook

Expectations: Very high.

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I know I’m late to the party, but Oldboy is incredible, y’all. If you haven’t seen it, don’t read another word. I’m going to stay away from spoilers, but still… watch the film knowing as little as possible about it. I managed to avoid virtually all spoilers (except for knowing the vague circumstances of a specific scene), and it served me very well. Oldboy is first and foremost a mystery film, so a good portion of the joy derived from watching it is in trying to piece together what’s going on and why.

Oldboy begins on a rooftop. A man with long, crazy hair holds onto the tie of another man who is hanging over the edge of the roof and clutching a white dog. The first man tells the other that he wants to tell him his story and the film begins in earnest. We meet the long-haired man when he was somewhat younger, and he is drunk out of his mind. He is loud-mouthed, garrulous and uncaring for those around him. As with any story that begins in the future and flashes back, we are compelled to wonder how this man became the man we met on the rooftop.

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Stoker (2013)

stoker_1Starring Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, David Alford, Matthew Goode, Peg Allen, Lauren E. Roman, Phyllis Somerville, Harmony Korine, Lucas Till, Alden Ehrenreich, Dominick ‘Dino’ Howard, Jacki Weaver, Dermot Mulroney

Directed by Park Chan-Wook

Expectations: High. Really looking forward to this despite knowing almost nothing about it.

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Sometimes waiting to see a movie makes for a better experience. If I had seen Stoker when it was released in theaters, I would have liked it but I would have been missing a key component to understanding it. Fortuitously and completely unbeknownst to me, Stoker is something of a re-imagined Shadow of a Doubt, so it was quite interesting to see this one after finally seeing that film for the first time just a couple of weeks ago.

The initial premise of Stoker is similar to that of the classic Hitchcock film, but it kind of flips everything on its head. Stoker begins with the funeral of Richard Stoker, father to India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) and husband to Evelyn Stoker (Nicole Kidman). Out of the blue, Richard’s long-lost brother Charlie (Matthew Goode) returns from traveling Europe and stays with the girls to help them in their time of mourning. India has no idea that she even had an uncle, so the event is one that raises her suspicions and interest in the mysterious and fetching Uncle Charlie.

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Three… Extremes (2004)

Three… Extremes [三更2] (2004)

Starring Miriam Yeung, Bai Ling, Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Lee Byung-Heon, Lim Won-Hee, Gang Hye-Jung, Kyoko Hasegawa, Atsuro Watabe, Mai Suzuki, Yuu Suzuki

Directed by Fruit Chan (Dumplings), Park Chan-Wook (Cut), Takashi Miike (Box)

Expectations: High. Good talent involved.


I’m a fan of extremes. It’s in my nature to like pushed boundaries and things outside the prescribed normal edges of taste. So when, just a minute or so into the first short, there is a shot so extreme and insane in its ability to shock and repulse that I’m ripped out of my haze and thrown headlong into wild fits of uncontrollable gasping and cringing, I am impressed. This is exactly what happened at the beginning of Three… Extremes, the sequel to the overall underwhelming Three.

Three… Extremes once again brings together three Asian directors from different countries and lets them loose to deliver whatever their hearts desire. First up is Dumplings from Hong Kong’s Fruit Chan, the director of one of my favorite Hong Kong films, Made in Hong Kong. But as much as I like that movie, I’ve never seen anything else from him, so I started Dumplings with a palpable excitement. Chan didn’t let me down either, as he quickly grabbed hold of the reins and never let go. This is easily the most extreme tale, which is somewhat disappointing because it’s first, but Chan is also the least well-known of the three directors here, so just like a nightclub line-up, it makes sense to place his film first. But it’s really a shame when your opener blows you away, and that’s exactly what Fruit Chan does to both Park Chan-Wook and Takashi Miike.

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