By: Greg Mitchell
On its blog The Lede tonight — where it has been breaking news all the week — The New York Times passes along a tip from Virginia Tech professor, Paul Harrill. He alerted the Times to the startling similarity between the most famous image (captured in publicity stills) in the recent Korean film “Old Boy” and the strangest image in the photos and video sent by Virginia Tech mass murderer Cho Seung-Hui to NBC.
They both show an angry man with a large hammer drawn back and ready to strike.
As probably one of the few American adults in the news media who has seen “Old Boy” (thanks to a son in film school), I can add a little something to this discussion.
The movie, “Oldboy” — which I saw on video a few months ago — is a gory thriller/revenge film directed by the talented Chanwook Park and winner of a top prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004. The lead character struggles with hidden demons to understand why he is being punished and tormented.
The film didn’t appeal to me at all, although I thought the director’s film “J.S.A.” was subtle and brilliant.
The other key film for this director is titled: “Sympathy for Mr.Vengeance.”
“Oldboy” is flush with blood. In one scene, the lead actor wields the hammer against a throng of foes — with a knife stuck in his back — and improbably survives. At the start of the movie he finds himself imprisoned and can’t remember why, then is released and given five days to figure out what he did, as a new body count grows. It leads back to high school and a surprise ending, as I recall.
The Times summarized the plot this way: “The film centers on a seemingly ordinary businessman, Dae-su, who, after being mysteriously imprisoned, goes on an extensive, exhausting rampage, seeking answers and all manner of bloody revenge.” Times reviewer Manohla Dargis referred to the film?s ?body count and sadistic violence.?