Oldboy (2003)

DVD Cover (Tartan Video)
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Overall Rating 85%
Overall Rating
Ranked #214
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An average man is kidnapped and imprisoned in a shabby cell for 15 years without explanation. He then is released, equipped with money, a cellphone and expensive clothes. As he strives to explain his imprisonment and get his revenge, Oh Dae-Su soon finds out that his kidnapper has a greater plan for him and is set onto a path of pain and suffering in an attempt to uncover the motive of his mysterious tormentor. --IMDb
Review by Chad
Added: September 21, 2005
Dae-Su Oh (Min-Sik Choi) is both a husband and a father who loves the liquor almost as much as he loves the ladies. Yes, his reputation for womanizing is well-known around town, so it shouldn't be very surprising when somebody decides to take their revenge on this man. This revenge comes in the form of Dae-Su waking up one day locked inside a room with no memory of how he got there or who put him there. The room is moderately furnished; there's a television, a decent bed, and meals are delivered through the door daily. However, the obvious questions remain... why is he here, who put him here, and when can he leave? The answer to the third question is "fifteen years later", and this freedom comes as abruptly as his imprisonment. Dae-Su wakes up one morning on the roof of a building and he is now a free man. However, there's a catch here... Dae-Su learns that he only has five days of freedom, and he also learns that he must solve the mystery of the other two questions during these five days or be haunted by them for the rest of his life. Along the way, he meets (and falls in love with) sushi-chef Mi-Do (Hye-Jeong Kang), who attempts to help him unravel the mystery... but her association with Dae-Su may cost her her life.

Yes, the above summary is pretty vague and doesn't reveal much of the storyline. This is because there's so many plot twists and so many revelations that revealing much of anything dealing with the movie would spoil things far too much. As the movie progresses, the pieces of the puzzle start to fall in place... and just when it seems that everything has been figured out, some new tidbit of information comes along that completely shatters all of the theories that both Dae-Su and the home audience have had regarding those two aforementioned questions. Yes, this is one of those movies where you will not see the final revelation coming; you may think that you have it worked out midway through the running-time, and you may even have a piece of the puzzle right... but when all is said and done, you will walk away from the film completely shocked.

One thing that I particularly enjoyed about this movie was the pace that it moved at. It's a slow movie, but it's not so slow that one starts to become bored or restless waiting for the next revelation to come. No, it moves along at a pace that lets the viewer feel exactly how Dae-Su would feel in his current situation; the loneliness of solitude, the confusion of being locked up without explanation, and the anger towards his captors are all conveyed beautifully to the audience. Now, this is not to say that the entire movie moves along at this pace. There's a few action scenes, there's a couple of gross-out scenes, there's a sex scene, and there's even some gratuitous bloodshed. All of these are used to quicken the pace where needed, but when it comes down to the meat of the story, the pacing of the film is slow... in a very, very good way.

Another thing that I enjoyed about this film were the visuals. I'm not referring to the action scenes or the gore (though those were certainly well-done), but more to the backdrops and scenery used during the main scenes. Director Chan-Wook Park has an uncanny eye for setting up shots where the attention is not pulled away from whatever is going on between the main characters, yet you still have time to take in the gorgeous backdrops used as scenery. Various color tones are also used with perfection to set the mood of the scene, and the score does nothing but improve the mood-setting. Even if I couldn't understand a word of this movie and had no idea what was going on, I'd still have watched it just for these visuals and the score.

This movie comes highly recommended for fans of psychological thrillers who aren't corrupted by Hollywood's "explosion and / or death and / or sex in every other scene" mentality. If you're looking for a good, original thriller and can tolerate a movie that takes its time to unravel, then you couldn't do much better than Oldboy. 9/10.
Alex P #1: Alex P - added 09/14/2005, 09:22 PM
damned good movie.
Vash #2: Vash - added 09/23/2005, 02:50 PM
aye, thoroughly enjoyed this one. very different and i definitely didnt see the ending coming.
Edd #3: Edd - added 09/22/2006, 02:35 PM
This is the kinda movie that has you suspecting every little detail and character. Bravo to Park for such an amazing film. Now to watch the sequal(s).
grain of sand #4: grain of sand - added 12/29/2006, 09:06 PM
I'd go ahead and say this is my favorite movie, amazing in every aspect.
Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #5: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 05/26/2007, 12:52 AM
The climax was quite a punch in the gut.
danimigra #6: danimigra - added 03/15/2008, 07:19 PM
BEST MOVIE EVER..!! 10/10 for sure
Lucid Dreams #7: Lucid Dreams - added 06/25/2010, 02:24 AM
All kinds of fucked up. 9/10
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