James DiGiovanna was less than pleased with this stranger-than-hell revenge flick, but I beg to differ, one of the hazards of having two pigheaded critics on your writing staff. I'm declaring this one of 2005's best.
Korean businessman Oh Dae-Su (Choi Min-Sik) is a loudmouth drunk who mocks the police and disturbs the peace. After a visit to his local police station, he disappears without a trace. An unknown kidnapper places him in a hotel room/cell that he will occupy for the next 15 years.
His prison isn't all that bad by prison standards. He gets a daily allowance of fried dumplings and is allowed to watch TV. The true torture of his captivity is not knowing the reason for his punishment, or the person who has put him in his prison. The only human contact he has is visitations from a hypnotist while he's unconscious.
Upon his release, he immediately seeks revenge, and finds himself a quick girlfriend in Mi-do (Kang Hye-Jeong). The circumstance of their coupling is fast and strange, but it stands as one of the few highlights in the last 15 years of life for Dae-Su. His search for revenge leads to some grisly fight scenes (he trained by hitting his cell walls while in captivity), and when he finds out the reason for his imprisonment, he probably wishes he had never asked.
Director Park Chan-Wook is fearless in telling this story, and boasts a style that is all his own. A fight scene in a hotel hallway is remarkable. As it is staged, it would seem that Dae-Su's chances for victory are nonexistent, yet as the sequence unravels, Chan-Wook and Choi Min-Sik make the carnage believable.
Choi Min-Sik delivers one of the year's best performances so far. It's hard to believe that the man in the opening drunken scenes is the same guy after the captivity scenes. Yu Ji-Tae makes for an interesting villain. His intentions aren't revealed until late in the film, showing him to be an individual of stunning sickness.
This is a film like no other, and it contains a rather disgusting turn of events and extreme violence (especially during a tooth-pulling scene) that will surely turn some viewers off. Proceed with caution.
Special Features : A long selection of deleted scenes and an interview with the director are the highlights. Some of the deleted scenes are shown with the portion of the finished film that would've preceded or followed, helping to put them in context. Chan-Wook also provides a commentary.
Yeah, sure, there's that special collector's-edition toy-box DVD set that came out a while back, and you never thought you'd have to get another DVD of this one again. Well, 10 years later, this movie looks as good as it ever has on this DVD, and you just might have to reconsider. The new digital transfer is flawless, and the soundtrack features DTS 5.1, so it sounds terrific.
This one was so ahead of its time, it still looks better than most animated fare being released today. It's amazing how Pixar and director John Lasseter made cartoon characters you could care for on human levels (having the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen helps). Woody the Cowboy and Buzz Lightyear are as endearing as they ever were, and this film will always be an incredible cinematic milestone.
Special Features: Some new stuff to make the purchase worthwhile. Legacy of Toy Story contains recent interviews with Hanks and Allen, as well as Toy Story fans like directors Peter Jackson and George Lucas. You also get a look at Cars, the next animated feature from Pixar. Some features, including an audio commentary, are taken from the past release. If you don't have the Toy Story box set (which included Toy Story 2), this is a good place to start. If you do have the box set, this one is still worth having.
My only complaint about The Fearless Freaks DVD (the recently released documentary of the Flaming Lips) is that it didn't contain any of their music videos. Well, here they are, all of their promotional music clips on one convenient DVD.
My favorite here would have to be "Waiting for Superman," where a kid dons a cape and makes all the blood from lead singer Wayne Coyne's gushing head wound return to his melon. The early stuff is primitive with the band just goofing around, but "She Don't Use Jelly" shows what Coyne (who often directs the videos) was capable of with a budget. Of especially experimental nature is George Salisbury's clip for "Are You a Hypnotist," in which it seems like the camera lens was attached to a rubber band.
Special Features : Nothing ... just videos.