A Bittersweet Life, lifePark Chan-Wook’s Oldboy, is a lyrical ode, a bittersweet poetry and a mesmerizing study on brutal, nerve-wracking violence and mayhem. In fact the movie is so good that at time, despite the clinical (and at times unforgettable) display of onscreen fury, my heart swelled with pain and empathy. Sun-Woo (brilliantly portrayed by Lee Byung-heon with astonishing ease), is a taciturn and nattily dressed enforcer for a gang-leader who he has been serving for seven years with deadly effectiveness. But then in a momentary lapse of judgment he lets the heart cloud his brain by developing feelings for his boss’ unfaithful girlfriend. And this sets in motion an irreversible course of action. The onscreen violence might be a tad too difficult to watch for the faint-hearted; for me, however, watching this incredibly choreographed, gorgeously photographed and magnificently directed movie (with a haunting soundtrack as an added feature) was an extremely exhilarating experience. The director’s ability to pay singular attention to the minutest details and drench the movie with a scintillating dose of nihilism and understated emotions, have made this otherwise straightforward plot attain an operatic quality with philosophical overtones. Sun-Woo’s realization that he had a sweet dream which unfortunately can’t ever come true provided the movie with an ending that I won’t forget anytime soon.
Director: Kim Jee-woon Genre: Action/Gangster Drama/Crime Thriller/Revenge Movie Country: South Korea Language: Korean