This week’s films, Equilibrium and Oldboy were two films I had been curious for some time but had been putting off watching indefinitely.

EEquilibriumposterquilibrium had peaked my interest for two reasons. First, as a big science fiction fan I’m always on the lookout for the films that deal with the big ideas as opposed to being just space adventure. What I got when I watched it was a fairly boilerplate fascistic dystopia, which pretty much acts like an action remake of Fahrenheit 451. I think Truffaut did it better the first time. (as well as

The other reason I wanted to see Equilibrium was the Gun-Kata.  Generally what the film is remembered for is Christian Bale running around guns akimbo and since I’ve had an interest in fight choreography recently and this was something I was looking forward to. Unfortunately, going by that criteria I was sorely disappointed. Apparently the original fight choreographer had designed a relatively functional gun based fighting style and the director didn’t use it because it didn’t look cool. What he replaced it with was extremely disappointing. You know something is amiss when the actual katas (that is to say the scenes where people are training) is better than the actual fight scenes.

All in all while it was a perfectly solid journeyman piece, Equilibrium didn’t deliver.

OldboykoreanposterOldboy was a completely different kettle of fish.

I’d read the manga it was based on a few years ago. It was such a kick in the head that when I heard about Park Chan-wook’s adaptation I was very reluctant to watch it. To a certain extant this is not the kind of film I would normally watch. I tend to be a bit of a wimp when it comes to over the top violence and it is a dark and violent film with the violence going back and fourth between almost ridiculous Grand Guignol to scenes so intense you find yourself averting your eyes. To spell this out; as someone who has had extensive dental work it will be a while before I can listen to Vivaldi’s four seasons in the same way again.

But what I like best about this film is all of the technical experiments Park does My favorite scenes were a fight in a narrow hallway done in a single, wide-angle shot and the scene where our hero Oh Dae-su played by (Choi Min-sik) learns just what he did to earn the wrath of the villain Woo-jin Lee played by (Yoo Ji-tae) to imprison him for 15 years. Seamlessly going back and fourth from past to present. It reminded me very much of a scene with William Defoe in Boondock Saints. On a lesser note Park does some really cool things with camera angles to make Woo-Jin towers over Dae-su when his coup de gras is delivered (he might have been using a wide angle lense for it but I’m not sure.

Oldboy is hardly a perfect film there are a few elements I think that could be improved upon but for the most part it has turned me into a fan of Park’s work.