Old Boy
2 Disc Special Edition

Starring: Choi Min-Sik, Yoo Ji-Tae and Gang Hye-Jung
Tartan Asia Extreme
RRP: 19.99
TVD 3523
Certificate: 18
Available 28 February 2005

A man is inexplicably kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years and his wife is brutally murdered. On his release, he is given a wallet full of money and a mobile phone. A stranger calls and asks him to try and figure out why he was imprisoned. A girl appears and promises to help him solve the enigma and seek vengeance to his cruel fate. As the search progresses, the man finally comes face to face with his kidnapper, who proposes a game: if the man discovers the reason for his imprisonment, his kidnapper will kill himself. If not then the girl will be killed. He has only five days to unravel the mystery...

Yet again this is another film that I have been lucky enough to own on import DVD for quite a while now. This fantastic tale of revenge and sick love was runner-up for the main award at the Cannes film festival (where it managed to bag the jury prize).

But as we all know, awards do not mean that a film is any good (Just look at Rocky and Forrest Gump, they won Oscars and were crap). Fortunately this is not the case with Old Boy. This is a brutal and very uncompromising tale of bitter revenge which also goes on to ask what kind of love is the wrong sort of love? Of course I could ruin a major plot thread of the film but rest assured that when you watch this film (and you do have to watch it) you will be shocked and quite upset about what the poor man goes through. But then again you do have to wonder whether or not the guy deserves this punishment (that's for you to decide).

Some people may also balk at the 'infamous' squid scene. To be honest, I was wondering whether or not the lovely people at the BBFC would allow such a scene to pass. And thankfully they did. Because although watching a grown man eat a live octopus is not the most pleasant of experiences, it does give you the impression that he is desperate and really has been suffering for the last 15 years.

Aside from all my waffling, all I can really say on the matter is that you must watch this film. Some of the images presented are not easy to stomach, but you cannot take your eyes from them. This is quality film making at its most powerful. Original and brilliant, this film deserves a place in the collections of everyone over the age of 18. There are no excuses.

Now to the surprising bit. Tartan Video has not always been great with their extras on their Asian Extreme releases. Sometimes they seem to put the words "Special Edition" on the cover of a DVD when all they've really included is a trailer and a couple of short, lightweight interviews (Audition, I am looking at you). But fortunately for us, they really have pulled out all the stops for this lovely 2 disc set. I will list the extras below, but trust me when I say that they are all fantastic and it's good to see that the effort has been put in for a fantastic film. Well done Tartan, you have just raised the bar for Asian DVD extras.

This collection includes five audio commentaries; DTS-ES 6.1; Dolby Digital-EX 6.1; two 'Making of' documentaries; nine deleted scenes with optional commentaries; an interview with the director; Cannes Film Festival gala premiere footage; and a short film: Memory of Old Boy.

So there you have it. Amazing film with amazing extras. Do you the right thing. Buy it.

Simon Lee

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