Oldboy (2003)

9.0 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Shocking ending, great action scenes

Might be too violent/twisted for some

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Oldboy

Studio:  Show East

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure/Mystery/Suspense/Drama

Release Date(s):  November 21, 2003

MPAA Rating:  R


How much do you like your life?

Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) is imprisoned for fifteen years without being told why and without any human contact.  While in prison, he learns his wife has been killed (for which he is being blamed) and his daughter sent to foster care.  As he prepares to escape, Dae-su is suddenly freed without any explanation.  As Oh Dae-su tries to uncover the reason behind his imprisonment and get revenge he meets a girl name Mi-do (Kang Hye-jeong) who helps him along the way.  Dae-su learns a man named Woo-jin (Yoo Ji-tae) is behind the imprisonment and learns he must play his game if he ever hopes to know the truth.

Directed by Park Chan-wook, Oldboy is one of the most violent and shocking films to come out of South Korea.  The movie is the second in Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy (the first is Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and the third is Sympathy for Lady Vengeance) and based on the Japanese manga Oldboy by Nobuaki Minegishi.  It was critically acclaimed and quickly became a cult classic.


Oh Dae-su, please chew your living octopus first!

Oldboy first of all looks great.  It is shot in a slick style that really gets you into the film.  The classic example of Oldboy’s style is the long hallway battle of Oh Dae-su battling off tons of men in a hallway with only a hammer.  The scene is one continuous take and looks fantastic.  The style in the one scene is carried throughout the movie which finds interesting and compelling ways to tell the story (it also really makes you want to eat a live octopus…yes, that scene was real).

Choi Min-sik is great as the tortured Oh Dae-su.  His transformation from businessman at the beginning of the film to a man unhinged by the end is a great journey.  I find Kang Hye-jeong as Mi-do as a bit shrill, but Yoo Ji-tae makes for a great villain (with his creepy bodyguard Kim Byeong-ok).  The whole cast does work well together and it is elevated by the great story.


Stop!!! Hammertime!

*****Spoiler Alert!!!*****  You can’t talk about Oldboy without talking about the ending.  Oldboy manages to pull off one of the most shocking ending that just continues to shock as it goes along.  First you learn that Lee Woo-jin was in an incestuous relationship with his sister Lee Sooah (Yun Jin-seo).  Then you learn what Woo-jin has done to Oh Dae-su for accidentally starting the rumor that led to his sister’s death.  Mi-do is actually Dae-su’s lost daughter, and he’s been having sex with her.  After yanking his tongue out to symbolically keep the secret, Dae-su decided to be hypnotized to forget this revelation and it is implied that he will return to have a relationship with his daughter without either of their knowledge.  This is about as twisted as you can get, and it is also a reason that Oldboy is considered one of the most shocking endings of all time by many fans and filmmakers.

Oldboy is definitely worth seeing, if not for the twist ending, see it for the slick shooting and editing.  The movie is pretty action packed, goes quickly and is full of twists and you’ll never forget it.  Remember however, you’ll need a strong stomach and even then, the violence might be too much for some.  In typical Hollywood fashion, Oldboy is being remade…Oldboy starring Josh Brolin opens in 2013.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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