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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts Cycle > Action > Japan > Oldboy (Asia Extreme/DTS DVD)

Oldboy (Asia Extreme)


Picture: B†††† Sound: B†††† Extras: B†††† Film: B



There is nothing that extremely revolutionary about 2003ís Oldboy, directed by Chan-wook Park, but somehow this film has been well received by American viewing audiences and the film has received some interesting DVD releases outside the U.S.One of the most interesting was one released inside a limited edition copper case, but the subject of this review is the Region 1 DVD from Tartan as part of their Asia Extreme editions series.


This is your typical revenge story, but has a slight twist or turn here and there.Letís begin with our main character Dae-su Oh, who is first kidnapped and then spends 15 years of his life imprisoned with no explanation.Oddly enough he is then released out of the blue, but seeks to find an answer to why he just wasted 15 years of his life in a prison.This however is just the second part of the kidnappers plan, which essentially acts as a second round of torture for Dae-su Oh.


The camera remains distant from our character almost like he is a nuisance to the viewer, but we grow sympathetic to his cause as we try to figure out the over-arching plot to the film.Unlike most American action films the music and the editing are unique in that we are not taking through these fast paced, quick cut fight scenes.Instead we are given a slower pace with interesting, almost serene, yet pulsating music cues.It reminds me of Requiem For A Dream meets Death Wish.


So how does Tartanís DVD compare to what else is on the market?The 2.35 X 1 anamorphically enhanced image looks relatively good despite a few problems.The first of which is that the film appears to be slightly boosted in contrast and brightness in certain areas, plus an abundance of grain permeates the print making the film appear a bit too soft and less detailed.There is slight combing in certain scenes as well.I have seen the DVD editions of this film that were approved by Chan-wook Park and his cinematographer and they are a bit darker in nature.This edition seems a tad too bright with less detail because of the boosting.


DTS 5.1 or DD 5.1 EX.Surprising there is not an extended surround channel for the DTS, but the Dolby Digital does.This would be a matrixed channel, not discrete, but would still be appreciated.More and more films are beginning to take some slight advantages of having a middle-rear channel that helps enclose the listener in the rear part of the soundstage.Once again there is another DVD released in another region that does contain the DTS with the ES (extended surround) for a more complete rear soundstage.I doubt that this makes a huge difference, but itís interesting why Tartan chose not to do 6.1, but stuck with 5.1.There are also a few less extras than other DVD editions, but this one remains semi-stacked as well.


The Starmax edition actually contains 4 audio commentary tracks, while the Tartan contains a single commentary track from Chan-wook Park and cinematographer Jeong Jeong-hun.There is also an interview with the director (about 7 minutes worth) and 9 deleted scenes with optional commentary by the director.Also included is a photo gallery and theatrical trailer, making this a well-rounded enough release.



-†† Nate Goss


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