Director: Chan-Wook Park
Apparently they're already planning a remake of this? Wow, how fucking lame is that? South Korean director Chan-Wook Park did a spectacular job with this, why the hell fuck with it? Because they can, I guess. Maybe I'll just hold off until they remake Citizen Kane too and just make it a double feature. Rat bastard fuck-tards, the lot of 'em.
The premise is pretty basic: A man, for some unknown reason, is locked in a room for 15 years, having no idea why he's there, who put him there, or when/if he'll ever get out. This is actually dispatched with quickly and efficiently, showing how he deals with this extreme isolationism and some of the mechanics behind keeping him alive for so many years both physically and mentally. Then one day without warning, he's released, with no more information than what he had going in. His 15 years of imprisonment has left Oh Dae-su with plenty of time to reflect on what kind of person he was; not exactly an angel, but nothing conceivably bad enough to warrant this kind of punishment. The rest of the film is a kind of cat-and-mouse game to find out who did it, and why. Revenge is the only option, yet when all the aspects are revealed there is still a choice to be made. Kind of. You just have to see it.
Okay, while the premise is a bit contrived, I found myself interested nonetheless. How could they pull this off without being too lame? It got a lot of good internet buzz, so what the hell, right? This movie is pretty fuckin' righteous. Highly recommended as a DMR suggestion, if any of the above sounds even remotely interesting, rent this puppy. You won't regret it. Technically it's the second movie in Chan-Wook's 'Vengeance' trilogy (starting with the not-quite-as-good Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and ending with the yet-unreleased [in the US, anyways] Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. This throws in a strong dose of a taboo subject just to give it that strong Asian flavor, but not quite as visceral as something from Miike... emotionally powerful as opposed to pure shock value.
Great Scenes: The hammer fight is pretty killer, more realistic than your average kung-fu. The initial imprisonment is very well done too, to quickly establish the change that takes place in Oh Dae-su, brilliantly played by Min-sik Choi.
DVD Notes: Tartan Video put a lot of love into the treatment of this DVD, worthy of the excellent cinematography. Extras include commentary by said cinematographer Chung Chung-Hoon and director Chan-Wook, an interview with the director, deleted scenes, photo gallery and trailers (including a trailer by a contest winner that's pretty alright).