Saturday, 10 December 2011


There is nothing cryptic about today's title, it is simply the original Korean title for the movie we're looking at. This movie has been hailed as one of the greatest international movies ever made and it stands at number 92 on IMDb's Top 250 films. It's considered the best film in the loosely connected 'Vengeance Trilogy'. So is it up to the hype that surrounds it? We'll see. Today, we're reviewing Oldboy.

The movie opens with a mysterious man dangling another man over the edge of a building by his tie. When asked what his name is we cut away to Dae-su Oh (Min-sik Choi) in a police station, very drunk and out of control. He is picked up by No Joo-hwan (Dae-han Ji) but soon lost at a phone booth. Dae-su Oh wakes up in a room. He has no idea who has trapped him here and he has no idea why. He spends the next fifteen years trapped in his little room with only a tv for company. He begins to train, build up his strength, and find a way to escape. He swears vengeance on whoever trapped him and when he is finally out of the room he goes on a journey to find the truth. With help from Joo-hwan and Mi-do (Hye-jeong Kang) he begins to unravel the mystery surrounding his capture.

The low prices at Oldboy hotel literally had people fighting for rooms.

All performances in the movie are outstanding. Min-sik Choi is outstanding as Dae-su. His emotions are gritty and raw. It's absolutely captivating to watch him from start to finish. Not only is his tantrum in the police station one of the funnier scenes I've seen for a long time, his brutality which verges on insanity is horrible to watch yet impossible to look away from. At some points you'll like him, some points you won't, and some you'll just be shocked by him. It's brilliant. As an antagonist, Ji-tae Yu is fantastic as Woo-jin Lee. He has a perfect balance between psychotic and plain evil. He's got enough of a human side to develop a tiny bit of sympathy for him but  mainly he's crazy and cruel.

What really stood out for me in this movie was the technical side of things. Chan-wook Park really knows what he's doing as a director. Everything is perfectly timed. Everything looks perfect. Everything is perfect as far as the technical aspects are concerned.  The fight scenes, particularly the long corridor fight, are spectacularly shot. The corridor fight scene involves a huge number of guards against one man. The first camera shot shows us how small the corridor actually is. The next one is a an extremely long single shot that follows the fight down the side of the corridor. It's incredible to watch. The use of sound in the film is also brilliant. Often music (or more often silence) will juxtapose what's happening on screen. It creates a really eerie atmosphere that works wonderfully with the explicit nature of the film.

Some people thought Dae-su had a fear of lifts. He didn't He was scared of women.

Overall, this film is definitely not for the faint hearted. While it has funny moments, they are completely outweighed. There's even a tooth-pulling scene, something that really makes me wince. However, it is a great movie and well worth a watch... if you can stand it. And pay attention. It twists more than a roller coaster.

Best Bit? It has to be the corridor fight scene. Cinematic brilliance as well as wonderfully choreographed.

P.S. It looks like a western adaption of this has been announced. Spike Lee is set to direct and Josh Brolin to star. While I know not all adaptions and remakes are terrible (Infernal Affairs - The Departed) I still don't like how many of modern films are remakes or western adaptions or reboots of already great movies or franchises. But then again, it may be awesome. We'll see. Perhaps it'll look something like this:

Josh Brolin as Dae-su?

Friday, 9 December 2011

I Am The English Psycho...

Hello Blogging type people. It has come to my attention today that there is an American Psycho remake currently being considered by Lionsgate. Now, it's not 100% official as the script still hasn't got the go-ahead. However, I would like to take a moment to discuss/ slate this idea.

Let's start with the defense of the possible remake. The movie is different to the book. Many supporters of the remake claiming that the previous movie didn't do the book justice. It is far more likely that this new movie will be more explicit (like the book) and less funny. It's also being pushed forward by Noble Jones, a director who has worked with David Fincher a few times. But now we'll take a look/ rant about why it's a terrible idea:

Firstly, the original movie is brilliant as it is. I can't understand how someone can look at it and say, I could make that so much better. Whether you're David Fincher's prodigy or not, it would be nigh impossible to improve on the movie enough to warrant a full remake. No film is perfect... Even my favourite movies have their flaws. Also, Jones want's to shift the plot into the modern day rather the 80s. Considering the book is a satire of the 80s business world, I can't see how fans can defend the hope of the new remake being closer to the film. And is anyone really going to play Patrick Bateman better than Christian Bale? It's become such an iconic role. The pure psychotic nature of Bateman is something that will be incredibly difficult to re-capture without stealing of Christian Bale's performance.

A friend of mine is very wise with these matters. He suggests that, if a film company want to make money off an old idea, re-release a film. Re-master it. Release some new box set. Don't remake the entire film when their are better and more original ideas out there. If this Noble Jones is going to be some great director, he should show us something new and cement his place in the film industry rather than present an old idea and for it to not live up to it's previous versions. I don't want a micro-budget American Psycho, I want new films that take my breath away.

/Rant over/

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Die Hard. Again. And Again. And Again. (Part 2)

Here's the second part of my Die Hard reviews. The first part is here. Five years after the second Die Hard was released, a third installment came out. Then it'd be another 12 years before we'd see anything Die Hard related in the cinemas. How did they keep a franchise going despite the massive gap in time? How did they adjust? Lets have a look, starting with Die Hard: With A Vengeance.

John McClane, (Willis) now almost a full-blown alcoholic, is on suspension from the NYPD. However, when a bomb goes off in a department store and the police are stuck for answers, a mysterious man named Simon (Jeremy Irons/ Graham Greene) phones and asks for McClane. He states that if the police want answers, McClane has to complete the tasks Simon tells him to. Task one: Wearing a rather offensive sign in the rough part of town. Fortunately for McClane, Zeus Carver (Samuel L. Jackson) steps in to protect him from a group of thugs. Not so fortunately for Zeus, this means he is now involved in Simon's games. Simon gets McClane and Zeus to run around town trying to stop bombs that he has rigged. However, Simon is planning a little more than he's letting on.

Both McClane and Zeus were extremely suspicious of the phone.
Despite being an alcoholic, being suspended and having not spoken to his wife, McClane continues to prove how cool he really is. By adopting a slightly more I-don't-care attitude, Willis provides a better performance than his second outing as the character. He brings the same wit and bad ass-ness that he's brought for the first two movies but this time they it comes with a fresh dowsing of pessimism. However, the stand out  performance of the movie comes from Samuel Jackson as Zeus. Continuing Die Hard's theme of having a handy black sidekick is presented with a twist this time around. Zeus is strong willed, sassy and powerful. He's very funny, if not very racist. The antagonists, Jeremy Irons and Graham Greene are superbly dark and smart. Their plots provide more twists than either of the first two movies and they create such a tense atmosphere which makes the film extremely exciting.

The Die Hard science begins to get a little bit out of control in this movie. There's ridiculously high and yet survivable falls, surfing on giant dump trucks, and goons with even worse aim than ever before.  But all of this only helps to make the movie all the more fun to watch. My least favourite aspect of the movie is not the slowly sinking realism but the incredibly annoying choice of music. Throughout dramatic moments of the movie, we are treated to an instrumental version of 'The animals went in two by two hurrah hurrah'. (Technically known as When Johnny Comes Marching Home). Something about it doesn't fit.

Overall, another good movie. Not as good as the first, slightly better than the second. Good fun and definitely worth a watch.

Best Bit? Personally, I have a soft spot for the dump truck chase in an underground system of water tunnels.

And finally we come to the fourth and (currently) the final installment in the series: Die Hard 4.0 (Or Live Free Or Die Hard)

So the plot of the last movie is slightly more nerdy than the others. This time, the terrorists are hackers and they're developing a system that can systematically shut down the entirety of the United States, one bit at a time. McClane (Willis) gets involved after he is sent to bring internet hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long) to Washington. Soon after he arrives at Matt's apartment though, unknown assailents begin shooting at Matt and McClane. After getting him out safely, McClane turns to Matt to gain some insight from his hacking knowledge and together they plan to bring down mastermind Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant) and his assistant Mai Linh (Maggie Q). Unfortunately for McClane (and in some ways, fortunate for Farrell), Lucy Gennaro McClane (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), John's daughter, gets caught up the whole ordeal and despite her disliking of her father and his attitudes to things, she relies and trusts in him to stop the terrorists.

Thomas Gabriel never understood the idea of
 going on a date and showing one's guns.

In the twelve years that John was absent from our cinema screens, a lot changed in his life. He lost all his hair, stopped talking to his ex wife and daughters, became a much angrier and older man. Willis continues to develop and adapt the character we've grown to love but still sticks to his roots. The years have aged him, and he shows us that. Also a brilliant performance from Justin Long. Admittedly it's a role that he plays more than any other, the awkward nerdy teenager. But the contrast between Willis and Long is so perfect it makes the movie great fun to watch.

Die Hard science goes to a whole new level in this movie. Death seems to become a thing of the past, or at least all of the characters have developed super strength. Cars are driven into helicopters, people are run over but able to continue fighting and fighter jets will destroy half a city on a very vague order.  However, being a more modern movie, the special effects, camera work, and general appearance of the entire film is a league above the other three movies. Probably the most silly out of all four movies but also one of the easiest to watch. There's lots of action and lots of explosions to keep your eyes busy.

In my personal opinion it's the weakest of the four films but compared to a lot of action films released nowadays, it's still of a better quality. It's fun and it's everything we love from Die Hard, if not a bit more exaggerated and silly.

Best Bit? The fight scene between Mai Linh, John McClane, and Matt Farrell. A whole new level of fight scene with use of cars, elevator shafts and a combination of them both. Or extremely tense tunnel scene when cars are flying all over the place.

A great set of movies. All worth a watch. And don't forget, yippee ki-yay, motherfuckers.