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Oldboy (2004)

Cast: Choi Min-Sik, Choi Min-Sik, Gang Hye-jeong, more...
Director: Park Chan-wook, Park Chan-wook
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Tartan Video
Genre: Foreign, Korea, Quest, Revenge
Running Time: 120 min.
Languages: English, Korean
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook directed this violent and offbeat story of punishment and vengeance. Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) is a husband and father whose reputation for womanizing is well known. One day, for reasons he doesn't understand, Oh Dae-su finds himself locked up in a prison cell, with no idea of what his crime was or whom his jailers may be. With a small television as his only link to the outside world and a daily ration of fried dumplings as his only sustenance, Oh Dae-su struggles to keep his mind and body intact, but when he learns through a news report that his wife has been killed, he begins a long and difficult project of digging an escape tunnel with a pair of chopsticks. Before he can finish -- and after 15 years behind bars -- Oh Dae-su is released, with as little explanation as when he was locked up, and he's soon given a wad of money and a cellular phone by a bum on the street. Emotionally stunted but physically strong after 15 years in jail, Oh Dae-su struggles to unravel the secret of who is responsible for locking him up, what happened to his wife and daughter, and how to best get revenge against his captors. Oldeuboi was screened in competition at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and won the coveted Grand Prix. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Theatrical Trailer

GreenCine Member Reviews

Pleasantly shocking by carlykristen October 13, 2006 - 4:34 PM PDT
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
Old Boy is the second film in the Revenge Trilogy by Park. The first is Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and the final being Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.

After being imprisoned for 15 years, Ho Dae-su (whose name means "getting along with everybody") is released and finds he only has 5 days to find his captor and seek his revenge. Once the captor is found, Dae-su will learn about a past he conveniently forgot and find he is in for an even bigger surprise during the final confrontation.

The film is mesmerizing, hypnotic, and well edited with flashbacks and jump cuts. Park makes an elevator ride feel like a roller coaster. There is a notable fight sequence referred to as the "one-take corridor scene" where Dae-su takes several men in mostly hand-to-hand and hammer-to-head combat.

This is a powerful film. It is a meditation on our addiction to TV, the bloody thirst for revenge, and the tomfoolery your mind resorts to when it is forced to relive your memories. The film will make you question the importance of forgetting, forgiving, and the satisfaction, or lack there of, in seeking revenge.

The movie has an incredible build leading up to the finale. The end scene is full of twists. You will be amazed and you watch the truth slowly unravel. You learn that one memory is not as it appears and that another more important memory holding the key to the puzzle was completely forgotten. You will learn that getting the revenge is not the most important thing, but instead be able to live with yourself is. You will find that neither man will be able to do so, which leads to an explosive ending. There is also a bizarre, if not disgusting, love story at the center of this.

Favorite Quote: Too many good ones to mention. It is a tie between "Be it a grain of sand or a rock  They both sink" and "Revenge is good for your health, but Pain will find you again."

DVD Extras: Commentary, Multiple Deleted Scenes, Interview with director, Still Gallery, and Trailers from Tartan Asia Extreme.

Bottom Line: You will be entranced while following the plot and pleasantly shocked the surprise ending. I will be seeking out Park's other work as well and I suggest you do the same.

Rating: 8.5/10

Molly Celaschi

Korean stand-out by Popnfresh December 18, 2005 - 4:55 PM PST
5 out of 5 members found this review helpful
This movie has been hyped to death, and having been thoroughly disappointed after a recent binge renting Korean movies, expectations were low.

Oldboy gets it right in every way. It's slickly and seemlessly edited. The story keeps you off-balance and guessing for most of its length. The film is brisk and doesn't bog down with needless exposition. It has a noir feel. The casting is spot-on, and the acting is hip and smart. It has careful attention to detail that is indicative of good direction. Even the soundtrack is note perfect.

The best comparison I can think of is to Fight Club. I left the theater after Fight Club exhilirated and satisfied, and had the same excited feel after watching Oldboy. And a lot of the elements that made Fight Club work for me can be found here. I could see Finscher and Park Chan-wook bouncing ideas off one another.

A Stunner by talltale August 29, 2005 - 8:25 AM PDT
11 out of 11 members found this review helpful
Shakespeare by way of Korea (minus the amazing language, of course), OLDBOY is a stunner. Over the top and melodramatic as hell--just like old Will--and violent and sexual in out-of-the-ordinary ways, it all works. This is due to the filmmaking skills of Park Chan-Wook, whose "Joint Security Area" is another Korean must-see that sports similar themes, and throws in male friendship, too. The prime theme here is vengeance, and the twists and turns the plot takes, together with the layers of guilt that are uncovered, should more than supply food for post-movie thought and discussion.

Wonderful performances from the leading men just add to the mix. The movie has been panned somewhat for its extreme violence, but--not counting the penultimate scene--it did not strike me as any more violent than many other films I've witnessed. (But, yes, that last number IS a doozy.) Further, there is not a trace of the enjoyably "camp" and homaged-to-death sensibility of a "Kill Bill. As operatic and exaggerated as it can occasionally seem, and as many opponents as the hero may render senseless, somehow the film keeps its footing as a serious exploration of the themes it has chosen to address. This is no mean accomplishment, and that's why "Oldboy" legitimately garners my nine-point rating.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.97)
355 Votes
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