Directed By: Spike Lee
Starring: Josh Brolin, Elisabeth Olsen, Michael Imperioli, Samuel L. Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Pom Klementiff, et.al.
Rated: R
Grade: C+

Joe Doucett is a drunk, a liar, and a sleazy marketing salesman. On the night of his daughter’s third birthday, he’s kidnapped by persons unknown, and placed hotel-like prison cell, where he is denied human contact and fed a steady diet of vodka and crappy Chinese food. While there, he learns that his exwife was brutally raped and murdered, and that he was framed for the crime. Over the course of two decades, learns of his daughter’s life after her mother’s murder through an Unsolved Mysteries-type show, which inspires him to quit drinking, get in shape, and try to deduce who could have wanted him taken and framed for a crime he didn’t commit so that he can reunite with her. After his twenty-year imprisonment is up, Joe is mysteriously released, and is given a limited amount of time to discover why he was taken or else something terrible will happen to his daughter.

Oldboy is a remake of a Korean movie that was based on a manga. Though the initial storyline is interesting – who took Joe Doucett and why? – the film quickly dives into strange, and occasionally reaches depths of what the fuck. For the most part, the acting is fairly decent. Brolin does an above average job playing the sleazy, abrasive drunk, though he seems to lose his footing in the scenes after Joe is released. Olsen tries her best to keep up with the more seasoned actors in the film, but for all her open hearted earnestness, she doesn’t quite believably convey the character’s broken soul. Copely’s bad guy Adrian doesn’t quite reach the desired depths of menacing, and ends up coming off as a mustache-twirling scenery chewer. As I’m unfamiliar with the source materials, I can’t say how this film measures up beyond second-hand comments about some watered down plot points and how the manga and the original Korean film had superior endings. Other than that, the film doesn’t shy away from the violence portrayed throughout much of the plot.

There are no noticeable effects aside from some saturation tinkering for a couple of flashbacks in other to give them a foggy, overexposed look. Other than that, there doesn’t seem to be much beyond background filler.

This movie isn’t for the faint of heart. With graphic violence and instances of incest, only those with strong constitutions will be able to make it through, and even then they might cringe at the memory of the plot. It’s also an involved plot line that requires you to pay attention so you don’t get lost wondering what’s going on. Those who do brave the movie may only want to watch it once, unless you’re a diehard fan of one of the actors in the film.

Oldboy is not available free to stream anywhere at the moment, but it can be rented from Redbox or Netflix home delivery service, or purchased from a participating store or on-line retailer.

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