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Nothing is more twisted than the story of Oldboy

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Oldboy (U.S. film)


Oldboy: Rated “R(104 minutes)

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Starring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Michael Imperioli

Directed by: Spike Lee

Based on a South Korean manga graphic novel, and later adapted into a film, This Spike Lee film is an adaptation of the film that was based on the graphic novel (currently available in the U.S. in an English translation from Dark Horse Comics). While we haven’t read the graphic novel or seen the original film we do feel that this version (especially for those of us who are unfamiliar with the original incarnations) is a powerfully twisted, and seriously demented story of revenge that crosses 20 years, and involves a plot point that is to heinously cruel that you will walk out of the theater feeling dirty for having witnessed it.

Joe Doucett (Brolin) is an advertising executive who is not only estranged from his wife and young daughter is also something of an alcoholic douchebag Not only do we initially meet him as he stumbles out of a bar, but later on he is drinking in his office, and that evening he is in a client meeting and hits on the girlfriend of the client, after the client buys the pitch). Yeah he is a thoroughly damaged, Bizzaro Herb Tarlek on crack, then beaten stupid with a crazy stick.

Well, you can almost see this part coming; Joe is shanghaied and kidnapped by a very attractive Asian woman only to discover himself locked in what seems to be a hotel room where he is held hostage for 20 years in solitary confinement. He is held there with no explanation with only a big-screen TV to keep track of the changing world around him. During this time he changes from a besotted drunk, to drying himself out, to a paranoid delusional to a man driven to improve himself. Then suddenly, one day he is inexplicably released, and he embarks on an obsessive mission to discover who orchestrated his punishment, only to find he is still trapped in a web of conspiracy and torment.

Unfortunately for Joe, the web of lies that have trapped him in the room for 20 years are neither so easily unwoven nor are they going to quite let him escape so easily. There are lies, wrapped in deceit, encumbered by obfuscation, and tied up with guilt. Then as Joe wanders his way through the past in order to learn what is going on, he is assisted by a young gal named Marie Sebastian (Olsen) who is herself something of a wayward child and kindred lost soul, only when we finally learn the horrible truth it is not more shocking than we can believe it is even more shocking than we can possibly believe. Ultimately, it is a dark twisted tale that is the ultimate form of revenge.


Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.


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