Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 145


Audience Score

User Ratings: 133,162
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Movie Info

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 (145) | Top Critics (41)

  • A lurid, complex, introspective beast, enacting astonishing cruelty on its protagonist like a slow-acting poison.

    Jul 29, 2019 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • 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…
  • Oldboy is a delirious, confronting ride, a movie full of visceral shocks and aesthetic pleasures: it has an explosive immediacy and a persistent afterlife, a lingering impact that is hard to shake.

    Jan 17, 2006 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Oldboy

  • May 12, 2018
    Oldboy is diabolical and ahead of it's time in the way it's directed and told. From its gritty violence to its heart-drenching thrills and revelations, the film is a remarkable feat and innovative take on vengeance and cunning storytelling. 4.3/5
    Super Reviewer
  • Aug 31, 2016
    One of the most visually impressive films of the 2000's with meticulously craft directing from Chan-Woo Park. But also easily one of the most devastating films you'll see. It rips your heart out in more ways than one. A revenge tale is only as good as the characters are written, and this film is brilliantly adapted from the 90's comic. The characters, who were apparently not developed enough in the comic, are well established within the first 20 minutes. All characters are brought around nicely by the time the credits roll, which contributes to the devastation of the film's emotional gut punch towards the end. One of the main reasons the characters work so nicely, is that Park provides character development in more ways than one. Whether it be through an important close up on our lead character's face or even a well-timed artistic metaphor, the story is so well-realized through its characters. Being that it's a tragic story that turns into a revenge flick but then turns back into a tragic tale again, you need to believe both sides of the coin. Min-sik Choi and Ji-tae Yu do a tremendous job at rounding out motivations as Dae-su and Woo-jin respectively. In order to feel the full impact of emotion Park was going for, you have to be with the film every step of the way. Although there are some plot points that blur the lines of being plot holes, Park gives us at least an acceptable answer to keep us engaged. Even just looking at the thrilling action sequences, which can be over-the-top and 'Raid'-like at times, is acceptable after seeing the finished product. Oldboy is a modern day classic. Not necessarily the type of film I would want to revisit more than once, but I got the full emotional impact that I had hoped for. Chan-Woo Park majestically directs the comic to life better than anyone possibly could. +Impressive fight scenes +Devastatingly beautiful storytelling +Lead performances -Potential holes in the story 9.1/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Mar 11, 2016
    Gripping action carries the load for this cinema standard, but, as the plot develops, the movie becomes increasingly unbelievable. This caused me to lose interest towards the climax because Oh Daesu was so likable early on. I will say it's a film worth watching once as long as it hasn't been spoiled beforehand.
    Ben B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 01, 2015
    And completing my list of movies that I have taken ages to see is this. As everyone says this is far superior to the American remake and I loved every minute of it.
    Ian W Super Reviewer

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