Traditionally, Korean films as well as Asian films at large were unfamiliar to western audience. However, today, these films draw the attention of ordinary viewers as well as critics and often Korean films do not only gain various grand prix but also receive positive reviews from viewers and critics. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the film directed by Park Chan-wook “Old Boy”ť (2003). The film may seem to be strange for western viewers, but reviews written by viewers are mainly positive revealing the fact that the film evokes interest of the audience.
In fact, it should be said that, in spite of the fact that reviews are mainly positive, but still they reveal the fact that the film is quite unusual for the western audience. Basically, reviewers lay emphasis on the psychological tension of the film and the main theme of the film, which most commonly is identified as vengeance, though the film raises a number of important issues and themes which may be not clearly seen at first glance. Nevertheless, the audience is captivated by the story itself and its presentation. For instance, reviewers point out the domination of monologues which are amply used by the director to reveal the internal world of characters and tell their story. At the same time, reviewers argue that the film contributes to the formation of the audience’s sympathy to the avenger that justifies quite rude and violent methods used for the vengeance itself.
On the other hand, some reviewers are more skeptical in regard to the film. In this respect, the role of violence is particularly significant. In fact, reviewers argue that the film is overwhelmed with violence, which overshadows implicit messages of the film. To put it more precisely, some reviews stand on the ground that it is the violence that attracts the mass audience to the film, but not its original message. However, such a position is apparently determined by personal views of reviewers because, in spite of the presence of violence, the film does raise quite serious themes and depicts extremely complicated human relations, which are confronted to social biases. Such a confrontation eventually leads to tragic outcomes and the director stresses these tragic outcomes and introduces elements of violence in the film. In this regard, some reviewers agree that the film emphasizes the personal tragedy of main characters and their conflict with the society.
In fact, reviews are mainly positive, though some reviewers are skeptical about the violence in the film, but, on viewing the film, it is possible to argue that such a view on the film is not absolutely correct. At this point, it is necessary to take into consideration the specificity of the genre of the film and reviewers comparisons of “Old Boy”ť to Tarantino’s films like “Pulp Fiction”ť are possible, though “Old Boy”ť does not seem to pay so much attention to violence, while themes raised by the Park Chan-mook are really profound. Hence, the positive perception of the film can be easily explained by the originality of the film and themes raised by the author since the theme vengeance for instance was of the utmost importance in the USA after 9/11. In such a context, “Old Boy”ť offers original, truly Oriental view on such themes as vengeance.
Thus, “Old Boy”ť got mainly positive reviews and, in spite of some criticism, it still remains an attractive film for viewers.