Get Up On This with Jensen Karp: Oldboy / Burning / Battle Royale


Get Up On This with Jensen Karp: Oldboy / Burning / Battle Royale

Every Wednesday morning Jensen Karp gets us up on something new

February 5, 2020

Every Thursday morning Jensen brings our attention to something that we may not know about yet or something we may have overlooked in the past

Now it's time to "Get Up On This."

With the Academy Awards just a few days away, a lot of the focus and hopes of winning will be on a South Korean film called Parasite. And for good reason. It’s won multiple awards so far and it was both Kevin and Jensen’s favorite movie of 2019. It’s directed by critical darling Bong Joon-ho, and it tells the conflict between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim family in a fashion that has never really been seen before in most major Hollywood motion pictures. It’s a foreign film that doesn’t follow the same ideas or formulas that a standard Hollywood script would adhere to. It may have subtitles, and it may be from a different country, but just like Joon-ho’s acceptance speech at the Golden Globes pointed out, once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you’ll be introduced to so many more amazing films. Jensen agrees and it got him thinking about three other Asian films that he thinks are important for us to see.

First up is another film out of South Korea. It’s a 2003 film that Jensen considers one of the best of its decade. It’s an action thriller directed by Park Chan-wook and its called Oldboy. It’s based on a comic book of the same name and it follows the tail of Oh Dae-su, who is imprisoned in a cell that looks like an apartment with no idea why or who put him there. There he’s fed, watches television, and learns that his wife has been murdered (and he is the primary suspect). After 15 years without any explanation, he’s released with no fanfare. And now, he’s confused and hell-bent on revenge. The turn of events is wild, the ending is disturbing and something that will stick with you for quite some time. It’s difficult not to see Oldboy’s influence on movies like The Raid or John Wick. You can stream Oldboy on Shudder & Tubi, rentable on Fandango and available for purchase on DVD or blu-ray.

The second pick was released in 2018 and is also out of South Korea. It’s a psychological thriller called Burning. It is co-written, co-produced, and directed by a guy named Chang-dong Lee. It’s another festival hit full of unease and mystery that a lot of American films just don’t have. The film follows a struggling unemployed young novelist named Lee Jong-su, played by Steven Yeun (who you may recognize from The Walking Dead). He runs into a woman who claims to be a childhood friend of his, who he doesn’t fully remember. He agrees to feed her cat when she goes out of town, and when she finally returns with a new rich-boy boyfriend, things quickly get weird with a love triangle, especially when Ben confides in Lee that he loves burning down strangers’ Greenhouses. It’s sort of an anti-Crazy Rich Asians. It’s also subtitled and currently streaming on Netflix and available to rent on Amazon for $2.99.

Lastly, a movie that got a lot of attention during the worldwide dominance of The Hunger Games is the 2000 Japanese cult classic Battle Royale.  Directed by Kinji Fukasaku and based on a 1999 novel, the film follows a group of middle school students who are forced to fight to the death, by the government, to control the population. Each student is given a weapon and placed on a secluded island. It’s extremely controversial because these are 15-year-olds fighting till the death. So much so, that it was not sold for theatrical release in the United States for fear of lawsuits, it was only straight to home video. However, it is still on every best foreign film ever made list by any American critic. There were bad sequels to this movie, but none of them were made by the original director Fukasaku, who died of cancer after the first film. There have been talks of an American remake for decades and rumors of a CW show for quite some time, but thankfully none of that has ever come to fruition. Battle Royale has a realistic sort of Kill Bill ultra-violence vibe. Over the years it’s only become bigger and bigger from word of mouth. It’s currently available to rent on Apple or Amazon for $3.99 or Stream it for free on YouTube.

Jensen’s three picks this week in honor of the great Parasite, which should win Best Picture at this weekend’s Academy Awards, are… Oldboy, Burning, and Battle Royale. They are all great movies, see them and all you have to do is read the subtitles at the bottom of the screen. They are all worth your time and are masterpieces – all of them. And that’s your Get Up On This.