‚ÄúViolence can be visually very beautiful, really exciting. But what’s important is what’s hiding behind the violence. I prepare the ground beforehand so that the violence doesn’t seem gratuitous.‚Äù Chan Wook Park
Chan Wook Park is Korea’s answer to David Fincher. This is not to say that Park lifts from Fincher’s work, which he doesn’t, but they definitely share a certain visual aesthetic and attraction to the dark, violent side of their characters. Old Boy is a film that received a mountain of hype leading up to its release, a mountain that grew larger when it won the Grand Prix at Cannes, and after watching it last week I’ve got to say that it absolutely lives up to every bit of it. Old Boy is what would’ve happened if Franz Kafka had written Fight Club and in the peculiar world I inhabit this is a very good thing, indeed. It tells the story of a man who is kidnapped for no apparent reason and held prisoner for fifteen years after which he is released without a word of explanation and having never seen his jailers. He then sets out on a quest to discover why he was held and by whom so that he may take his revenge. It’s a gritty film, at times viscious, but beatifully told with a perfect balance of style and substance. Korean film is currently undergoing a major explosion in terms both of quantity and quality and Park has quickly established himself as Korea’s premier director.
But don’t take my word for it. Read the KFC Cinema review here then head out and check out the teaser and trailer here and then this clip from the Cannes website. Once you’re done with that the Korean DVD – and it’s a sweeeeeet package – can be had cheap here. And, yes, that is a hammer that he’s holding.