Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Korean De Niro and Old Boy

Vendetta is sometimes one of the most beautiful driving forces in human nature. I say this because most of the time, revenge has pushed me to do things beyond my limits. Though I’m not really a bad person, and definitely not the incarnation of evil, but sometimes, this fiery sentiment really surprises me. And it's the main ingredient in "Old Boy", the featured movie this year in the 12th Florence Korea Film Festival.

Old Boy is one of the Vendetta Trilogy movies of great Korean filmmaker Park Chan-Wook. And this year’s special guest is Old Boy actor Choi Min Sik. This guy is the Robert de Niro of Korea and I had the privilege to get near him and take photos of him.

When I told everyone that there’s a REAL actor coming here from South Korea, the girls were expecting lesbian-looking-sugar-coated-poop-(yes, I intentionally wrote poop and not pop because I think they’re shit)-star-turned-actor-who-does-not-really-know-shit guys. And some guys were expecting the usual pallid faces they see in soap operas. When it comes to movies, they really have some interesting criteria of what’s really good. No I was fucking kidding. They didn't have any real criteria or even the capacity to judge between good and rotten movie. 

The thing is, Choi Min Sik was here to be awarded the Florence Korea Film Fest Award for his artistry, and genuine talent in acting, and his great contribution to Korean culture and Korea’s movie industry.

Anyway, ‘Old Boy’ is the story of a man who became the target of some rich guy’s vendetta. He’s been kidnapped and incarcerated in an unknown cell for more than a decade. After being released, he embarks on a bloody and interesting journey of unveiling the mastermind of this complex plot he’s in. He soon found out that he’s been imprisoned once again in a greater plan by some psycho who’s determined to destroy him for some sin he committed when he was still a dumb teenager.

I loved every scene of it, the graphic details, the development of the plot and, especially, the unique musical score. I’ve seen it a thousand times (I have the DVD of Park Chan-Wook’s Vendetta Trilogy) but it’s really different when you see it in the movie house.

There are three scenes which really astounded me the most.

First, his monologue about his imprisonment in his cell- when he started doing some soul-searching, trying to think of who could’ve done it to him. Then he started working out and plan out his revenge, and his escape. I liked it when one moment you see him lucid and rational, and then later on it seems like he’s on the verge of hysteria.

Second, that scene where he grabbed the alive octopus and brutally ate the critter, with so much violence and fiery hatred. So brutal. Lovely. Simply lovely.

Third, the fight scene with the thugs where he was incarcerated. It was a one long shot. He was breaking skulls and bones with a hammer, and a knife rooted on his back. Beautiful. Originally, it was supposed to be a scene studded with computer graphics. In end the director decided to make it more realistic- no effects, no stuntmen. So they burned 35,000 euros worth of computer editing. 

The actor, during the forum, said that making Old Boy was the most difficult and intense movie project he ever did because the director really made him work a lot. Obviously, when you’re working with a genius you really have to double the effort to be able to meet the standards. After filming the movie, it left an emptiness inside him. The story was powerfully moving that he had to take another movie project that was more about life just to fill the void.

The movie won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004, and the praise of the president of the jury at the time, Quentin Tarantino. I saw earlier that there’s a Hollywood remake of the movie. Again, Hollywood, you’ve fucked up enough movies. Stop it already!

Old Boy is not just a movie. It’s an experience one must never miss, as well as meeting the brilliant and affable Choi Min-Sik. Forget the remake.


  1. Opening na panlalait mo pa lang sa "Korean poop" busog na ako sa amusement waha ha ha ha. Considering your review I'm interested to watch the movie but I think I need to gather some courage ha ha.

    Well what would u expect from Kill Bill Tarantino? Of course he loves anything violent lolz.

    The word "Vendetta" reminds me how I described myself on my Friendster profile. It says "Don't mess with me I'm MAFIASTIC!" :D

    1. Yeah, you do have that mafiastic quality, hehehe!. You should watch the trilogy. Work of a true genius!

  2. youuuuu seriously got to see him in person and you get to watch these festivals in florence??? eeeeehdi ikaw na talaga ang masaya! hahaha! GRABE!! inggit!!

    Old Boy is one of the most brilliantly twisted movies i've ever seen. I dare not watch it again though lol it's given me enough sleepless nights already. but man, to see him in person and to watch it in a movie house must be AMAZING. grabe!

    1. Yes, he's rrally an amazing person. Very smart and interesting. And a sensitive one too. He was really grateful to receive the award kahit hidi big time ang Florence Korea Fiom Fest.


Sige, sakayan niyo ang trip ko....