have covered the film itself in my review of the 2-Disc
Special Edition release of the film, which you
can access here.
I will mention here, something I inexplicably failed to
include in that review and could see no easy way of shoehorning
in later, is the music score, a delicious and most unexpected
mixture of moody film noir strings, dreamy and melancholy
waltzes, and driving action beats. Memorable and so effective
in their own right, the tracks are amusingly named not for
the action they underscore, but after favourite films of
Park and his long-time musical director Cho Young-wook.
is part of a six disc, three film set. Sympathy
for Mr. Vengeance and Lady
Vengeance have been reviewed seperately.
This is the only film in the set that is not being presented
in a new transfer, but that's because it's not really in
need of one. The picture is identical to that on the 2-disc
Special Edition, as are the three Korean soundtracks.
But wait, what's this new bit at the bottom of the audio
I have never been and never will be a fan of dubbed soundtracks,
as although they potentially widen the film's audience to
include the culturally lazy, they rob the actors of half
of their performance, and it's not as if their voices are
being replaced by western actors of similar stature and
talent. The English track here, or should I say American
English track, perfectly illustrates my point, replacing
Oh Dae-su's frantic gabbling through the food door of his
cell with what sounds like a 20-year-old college boy gasping
"Hey sir! Sir! Fuck it! Come here you asshole!"
and the like. Just horrible. If you watch the movie with
this soundtrack, you should be punished. Actually, in a
way, you will be.
three Commentary Tracks you'll
find here are the same as those on the 2-disc special edition,
as is the Original Theatrical Trailer.
if you were overwhelmed by the sheer number of extras on
disc 2 of the 2-Disc Special Edition, you're in for a real
start when you load up the extra features disc that accompanies
this release of Oldboy. The menu appears
and there's only one thing on it. Eh? Can this be right?
Indeed it can. But just you wait.
(210:03) is a behind-the-scenes documentary, or at least
a collection of behind-the-scenes footage, since this extra
is devoid of interview (well, almost) and voice-over. You've
seen these before, right? Sure, they're on half the DVDs
out there, footage grabbed during the shoot used as part
of DVD featurettes or to spice up interviews conducted with cast
and crew or to make up EPKs. But this one is, wait for it,
three-and-a-half hours long. You heard me. That's an hour-and-a-half
longer than the film itself. And there's no coverage of
planning or post-production, this is just the shoot itself,
from the first to the last day and covering the filming
of just about every scene, and even a couple of sequences
that never made it to the final cut.
many will find the sheer idea of sitting through 210 minutes
of behind-the-scenes material a mind-numbing prospect, but
for anyone seriously interested in the process of film production
this will prove compelling stuff, as we almost become part
of the crew, following every aspect of the shoot itself
and treated to detail and cast/crew interraction that is
too often edited out. Even at this length there is some
obvious and serious trimming, with shots you expect to run
for some time being cut short in just a couple of seconds.
were brief glimpses of the footage used here on several of the
extra features on the previous release, but here you get so, so
much more. Detail aside, there's some priceless stuff here,
including some crowd near-hysteria on a night location shoot,
Choi Min-sik's sheer physical exhaustion on completing take
after take of the corridor fight, and everyone from the
actors to the director himself doubled up with laughter
at the actions of others (Park hiding his out-of-control
giggling under the sushi counter as Choi's live squid meal
grabs his face is a gem). A degree of drama is introduced
on the trip to New Zealand when costumes and a prime lens
are mislaid by the airline, and Choi talks about taking
a New Zealand production assistant home after she repeatedly
supplies objects to keep the actor comfortable. Perhaps
most extraordinary is the filming of the penthouse climax,
with both Choi Min-sik and his stunt double suffering some
astonishing physical punishment (its hard to imagine a Hollywood
star agreeing to or simply being allowed to be hurled around
as Choi is here) – when the injuries inevitably happen
they do prove alarming, with one bad fall knocking the stuntman cold.
on-set atmosphere is always good, though, and this was clearly
a great film to work on, even at its toughest. Actor Song
Kang-ho, who played Park Dong-jin in Sympathy for
Mr. Vengeance and Detective Park Doo-Man in Memories
of Murder, seems to have spent all his spare time
hanging around the set having the time of his life – Choi
nearly throws something at him when, after they have finally
completed the corridor fight and he is still gasping for
breath, Song cheerfully suggests he do it again.
is not going to be for everyone, but I really, really appreciated
the chance to follow the shoot from start to end in such
detail. Personally I loved this feature and wish there were
a few more like it.
the three films in the Vengeance
Trilogy Box Set, this is probably the one that
offers the fewest reasons for repurchase, given that disc
one is pretty much as it was (save for that bloody English
dub). But fans of the film who want to become virtual crew
members will find plenty to justify its acquisition in that
genuinely exhaustive documentary. For my money, this is
the best new extra feature in the whole Box Set.