Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Revenge is a dish best served...alive and squirming.

Here's a genuinely original piece of Asian cinema that's unlikely to go through the Hollywood facsimile process anytime soon due to scenes of sushi-porn and amateur dentistry plus the twisted underlying erotic theme, but unquestionably worthy of the Grand Prix du Jury it received at Cannes in 2004 - a prize that is usually awarded to the film in competition that most advances the art of cinema.

Chanwook Park's stunningly inventive revenge-tragedy tracks the unfortunate destiny of underachieving Oh Dae-Su who is encarcerated in a bedsit by a private prison contractor for 15 years apparently for the crime of talking too much. The man that emerges is a wounded but determined weapon of retribution that begins the search for his tormentor by tracking down the restaurant that delivered all his take-away meals.

Crucially however, he has failed to grasp that his release is as much a part of his unpleasantly Greek fate as the years of daytime TV that preceeded it. Too late he comes to appreciate that (octopus aside) he might have bitten off more than he can chew when when his doom finally intersects with that of the eerily handsome sociopath Woo-jin Lee, another vengeful oldboy from the Evergreen secondary school.

You'll need a strong stomach, but still the most shocking thing about it is its creativity.

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