Oldboy (2005)

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Critic Consensus: Violent and definitely not for the squeamish, Park Chan-Wook's visceral Oldboy is a strange, powerful tale of revenge.

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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.

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Critic Reviews for Oldboy

All Critics (137) | Top Critics (37)

Both brutal and lyrical, writer-director Park Chan-wook's existential nail-biter has torture scenes that will have you avoiding dentists, sushi bars and badly appointed hotel rooms.

Apr 15, 2013 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Shakespearean in its violence, Oldboy also calls up nightmare images of spiritual and physical isolation that are worthy of Samuel Beckett or Dostoyevsky.

Apr 15, 2013 | Full Review…

There's a lot less here than meets the eye.

Apr 17, 2007 | Full Review…

Quite an achievement then, and well worthy of its Cannes prize.

Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…

It's hard to make an argument for Oldboy based on anything other than pure cinematics, but when the style speaks this loudly, it's an argument worth making.

Sep 26, 2005
AV Club
Top Critic

It's mesmerizing and discomfiting, engaging the viewer on a visceral and an intellectual level.

Jun 10, 2005 | Rating: 5/5

Audience Reviews for Oldboy

Daesu Oh is a drunk and a philanderer but otherwise a fairly typical husband and father, until one day he is kidnapped and imprisoned in a cell for 15 years with only a TV set for company and no word of explanation. One day he wakes up on the outside with only a wallet and a phone, and he sets out on a single-minded quest to find out why he was imprisoned and extract bloody vengeance on those responsible. The second part of the Vengeance Trilogy by Chan-wook Park, Oldboy is a bizarre and brilliant film. It constantly wrong foots you and messes with your perceptions, and contains the kind of revelation that makes the kind of so-called plot "twists" of most films look gimmicky and inane. This is the kind of film that blows you away and makes you realise you've been watching the WHOLE THING from the wrong standpoint. As for Min-sik Choi's performance, astonishing is the only word for it...the way such intense emotions and motivations are constantly shifting without ever feeling contrived or forced is just spellbinding. It combines art and extreme violence in a way that reminded me of A Clockwork Orange, but better! It's also stylistically on the same level as Fight Club and is absolutely riveting from beginning to end. A virtually flawless modern masterpiece.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

½

A disturbing, dark, but undeniably creatively constructed melodrama concerning a man (Choi Min-sik) who on the evening of his daughter's birthday, is captured and locked away for 15 years and not told why, before being suddenly, inexplicably released into the world, where he seeks vengeance against his captor. This is a hard movie to recommend because the subject material is so disgusting and unlikable, but from a pure artistic perspective and how everything is put together, this is a phenomenal film. It is really a modern-day Shakespearean tale acted to perfection, with twists in the story that are definitely sick and shocking. Proceed with caution, but in the end this is a really, really well done movie that is worthy of the cult following it has garnered over the years. The ending will leave you picking up what is left of your brain off the floor.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

[img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon14.gif[/img]

Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

½

Oldboy is the sequel to Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and is a well thought out movie that ranks up there as one of the greatest revenge films ever made. Although a Korean movie, this is nonetheless a superb piece of cinema a, one that ever serious film fan should definitely check out. The level of filmmaking is superb and director Chan-Wook Park crafts a blistering picture that has stood out above others in the genre. This is a brilliantly shot picture that will certainly appeal to genre fans looking for something truly different. Oldboy is an in your face type of movie, one that doesn't shy away from its violent content, and it's one of the few film where the violence is an integral part of the story, and not used in an unnecessary manner. Along with that there is a truly compelling and well layered plot that entertains you from start to finish. Acting wise, the cast deliver some wonderful, convincing performances and in terms of a strong sequel, Oldboy is a worthwhile follow up that exceeds expectations. Korean cinema in the last few years has seen some stellar films, and Oldboy is one such prime example of the genres standout features. This is a near flawless picture that is haunting in its plot and tells a stellar revenge story that is sure to delight cinema buffs everywhere. Oldboy is a disturbing ride, but one that is worth taking if you love a well crafted movie that tells a great story. The direction is immaculate the performances are wonderful, and the film will certainly stay with you long after you've seen it. The scenes that use a heavy dose of violence are not for the squeamish and add to the experience that director Chan Wook Park is trying to convey in his Vengeance trilogy and it works brilliantly. Oldboy is a riveting masterwork that elevates the revenge genre to whole new levels.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

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