ENTER THE DEN OF SIN: THE KOREAN DAVID FINCHER?

We had a brief break and then settled in to be punched in the nuts by our next movie: the Grand Prix winning “Old Boy”. Mining similar territory as Park’s Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, “Old Boy” drew comparisons from the Peanut Gallery to “The Game” and to a lesser extent Fight Club all wrapped in sensibilities which are unmistakably Korean. An absurdist black vengeance comedy of epic proportions it has been hyped quite a bit lately, but with few exceptions we were all very impressed.

The first thing I noticed about the film was that drunk Koreans are really funny. Especially drunk Korean men. Japanese men run a close second, but recalling the number of films I’ve seen recently with drunk Koreans, I think there is a unique comedy there that I just can’t place. This same drunk Korean is later kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years with nothing but a TV. This isn’t nearly as funny, but it’s a hell of a premise for a movie. There is a quick montage of Korean history, most of it lost on us poor silly Canadians and then for no reason he is released.

Having spent 15 years in the closest living equivalent of hell, Dae-su (Min-sik Choi) no longer has any need for the regular rules of society. If there’s something he wants, he takes it. If someone is in his way, he kicks their ass. This brings us to another observation about recent Korean film: the epic smack down is paramount. Whether it be two footed flying kicks or airborne swats with a baseball bat, Korean fighting manages to be both brutal and athletic.

The rest of the film deals with Dae-su systematically hunting down whoever was responsible for his imprisonment for the sole purpose of making them pay. Yes, the film does reference “The Count of Monte Cristo”, but personally I felt it was more in line with Faye Weldon’s “Life and Times of a She-Devil” in sheer scope. I won’t give anymore of the plot away since that would pretty much take all the fun out of it, but let’s just say the ending is jaw-dropping.

There were a couple scenes that my fiancé feels should be stolen for a Wolverine movie, and someone made a crack that the “dental trauma” in the film makes “Marathon Man” look like “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Bob was most impressed by the presence of a 50 caliber Derringer and we all winged and gasped during numerous scenes of gory, glossy torture. However, as usual, Peanut Gallery reaction was best summed up by the following exchange:
Owen: Did you buy this movie? ^ Fiancé: (slightly hesitant) Yes. ^ Owen: Can I borrow it?

Rumblings from the Peanut Gallery: New comer Blair pointed out that there is a Hollywood remake of “Old Boy” in the works which we all scoffed at, especially after seeing the film. Let’s just say there’s some stuff in there that most Hollywood types wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole so I am curious as to how they’ll handle it. Also worth noting is the fact that Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow) is set to direct, so it might be worthwhile. Who knows? Both films were glossier than we expected and not as well framed as “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance”, but they were both enjoyable on different levels. Although we got off to a rocky start, Chan-wook Park night seemed to be another rousing success.

Mariko McDonald and her fiancé host a weekly film night in their apartment, affectionately known as the Den of Sin. It’s kinda like evil film school. Monthly screening schedules are available at http:filmgurlland.blogspot.com and if you happen to live in the Vancouver, BC area and are interested in catching a screening please drop her a line at filmgurl79@hotmail dot com. Suggestions, hate mail and cute pictures of cats also accepted.

And of course you can always offer up some juicy Back Talk>>>




Posted on December 9, 2004 in Features by
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