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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 14.1%
Average: 9.62%
Pretty Bad: 4.49%
Total Crap: 28.85%

10 reviews, 96 user ratings

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Oldboy (2005)
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by Dr Nick

"A violent, beautiful, disgusting, exciting and breathtaking experience"
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE EDINBURGH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2004: This was one of the weirdest (in a good way) experiences I have ever had in the cinema. Not an easy film to watch or to follow but nonetheless extremely powerful and thought-provoking. This is brutal and uncompromising filmmaking at its best. An intense story, essentially about revenge and holding a grudge, this will give you things to talk about for ages afterwards. If only all films were this mindblowing.

Dae-su is a happily married man with a young daughter. One day he is kidnapped and wakes up in a cell with nothing but a television to entertain him. No explanation is given to him, nor is he given any details of any eventual release. Days turn to months and eventually years, without him ever seeing a human face. On the television he watches news of his wife being murdered and himself being the main suspect, but unable to do anything about it he starts to exercise and plan his revenge. After being kept in the cell for fifteen years, he is finally released. He wakes up on the roof of a building wearing a suit, with a wallet full of money and a mobile phone. In a nearby restaurant he befriends a pretty waitress, Mido, and together they try to find out who held him captive for fifteen years. Dae-su manages to track down the man responsible, Woo-jin, and is about to kill him when the tables are turned. Woo-jin points out that if he kills him now, then he will never find out why he was held captured for so long. Woo-jin gives him a deadline. Find the reason in less than five days or he will kill Mido, Dae-su?s new love. If he succeeds Woo-jin will kill himself. Dae-su has to search deep in his past and eventually finds out that Woo-jin and himself went to the same high school, and that he once walked in on Woo-jin having sex with his own sister. Dae-sun told everyone in school, resulting in Woo-jin?s sister committing suicide. Thinking he has found the reason, he returns to Woo-yin. But another question remains. Why was he released? Things are about to get really weird?

I don?t want to give too much away. It is a very complex plot, and the less you know the more impact it will have on you. It just completely blew me away. I honestly can?t remember the last time I felt this amazed by a film. I know I?m using clichéd phrases here, but if there ever was a time to use the description ?a roller-coaster of emotions? this is it. This film will make you feel every feeling imaginable. It?s exciting, funny, scary, disgusting, romantic, moving and extremely disturbing, all at the same time.

So, is it a good film technically? Is it well put together? I can?t find find much wrong about this film. If I had to pick something, then it would be that some of the scene transitions are a bit overused and quite cheesy. But, apart from this minor complaint it?s a solid, highly confident piece of work. The performances are strong throughout, and the cinematography is as harsh, cold and strangely beautiful as the film itself.

We?ve come to expect graphic violence from modern Asian films, and Old Boy is no exception. Amongst beautifully staged fight scenes you get teeth getting pulled out with hammers, as well as tongues getting cut off. The tooth-pulling scene is particularly horrible, being in the same league, if not even worse than infamous tooth-related scenes in films such as Marathon Man and Last House on The Left. We also find out that if you follow a strict routine of nothing but exercise and television for fifteen years, you?re going to be pretty hard to kill. In what?s a very impressive fight scene, Dae-su is attacked by twenty men and not only survives, but wins. After fifteen years of punching a brick wall, a human body is not really much of an obstacle.

The film is also strangely moving. When Dae-su is released from his imprisonment, we get to share his very first feelings of freedom. The first sight of the sky, the first touch of grass. There?s a stranger on the roof and when Dae-su gets to feel the skin of another human being for the first time in fifteen moments, it is a truly touching (no pun intended) moment. But, in this film good things don?t usually last very long and soon the stranger continues with what he was up there to do in the first place, which was to commit suicide.

There?s nothing quite like a film that gets under your skin, that really makes you think. When you finally think you?ve got it all figured out, something completely unexpected comes up and all your ideas of what?s going on are completely shattered. Old Boy demands the full attention of the audience and if you're prepared to commit yourself to this film, it is an extremely rewarding experience.

Raw and powerful, Old Boy deals with real human emotions. No attempt has been made to make this an easy ride, not for Dae-su himself, or the audience. And why should it be easy? Life is hard. Life isn?t straight-forward and in a world that?s gone mad there?s definitely not much room for happy resolutions. If you want intelligent and thought-provoking cinema, look no further. It doesn?t get much better than this.

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originally posted: 08/18/04 18:44:05
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Edinburgh Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2005 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 San Francisco Asian-American Film Festival. For more in the 2005 San Francisco Asian-American Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 New York Asian Film Festival For more in the 2012 New York Asian Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

4/23/18 Oliver Twist Totally overrated. Guesses the "surprise" after 10 minutes. Motive not believable. 1 stars
5/12/15 Christian Paulson Hammertime! 5 stars
5/09/12 Marty Bold twists, sick story with good acting. Some parts not needed for main plot. 4 stars
8/12/11 jiropan classic disturbing film............excellent plotlines......... 5 stars
1/26/11 Keireki Sorry, movie was shit. 1 stars
12/31/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess Might be the most inventive, offbeat and imaginative movie of 2003 5 stars
9/22/10 stam JUST EPIC 5 stars
3/26/10 tina incest!!!!!! ewwww, i think they have lots of problems to film something like that 1 stars
2/22/10 Langano Brilliant. 5 stars
9/23/09 Blind n Retarded not set in tokyo. not a waitress. not his girlfriend. 4 stars
8/11/09 menten shocked... in a good way. one and only in the world. 5 stars
4/17/09 Total Crap I love asian extreme films, this has one of the sickest twists I've ever seen in a movie. 4 stars
8/05/08 Bnorm Dae Su was a beast he fucked up like 30 dudes with nothing but a hammer and his fists! 5 stars
5/16/08 Marlow You feel sick to stomach but there's no denying the movie is impressive 5 stars
5/30/07 Charles Tatum Sucks you right in, with an ending Americans would never dare do 5 stars
3/27/07 MP Bartley Crazy stuff, that strains plausibility by the end. Mostly grandly and vividly entertaining. 4 stars
2/13/07 Double M STYLISH, SICK and EASILY misunderstood. Choi gives 1 of the BEST performances EVER filmed. 5 stars
1/05/07 Eric P. Amazing revenge flick. 5 stars
12/05/06 Leslie i liked Sympathy for Lady Vengeance better. But Mr. Choi's acting is excellent!! 4 stars
10/13/06 Hoggydog STOP POSTING SPOILERs! COUGHtrigger happy. good movie. 5 stars
9/14/06 Stubby Expertly-crafted, but...ugh...that ending. 3 stars
8/20/06 Dyll This film was wicked. Brilliantly written. Don't believe the naysayers. 5 stars
5/25/06 malcolm classic revenge flick. i'm surprised, but glad, no american has redone this one 5 stars
4/25/06 Furuta One of the best films ever!!! 5 stars
3/11/06 Rick Yamakoshi A visual and moral assault on the senses. 5 stars
2/21/06 Agent Sands Truly unbelievable. One of my top 10 favorite movies of all time. 5 stars
1/20/06 ChappyX Park's SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE is heads and shoulders above this letdown of a film. 1 stars
1/12/06 TriggerHappy That daughter fucking shit is just disturbing as hell... 1 stars
1/06/06 SlappytheFrog Amazing first hour, followed by a much-less-interesting one and a sucky ending. Meh. 3 stars
11/25/05 CONSTANTINE AWESOME... YOU GUYS DON'T KNOW A GOOD FILM WHEN YOU SEE ONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
11/23/05 hibbyX Will you people get off the hallway fight already?! It was NOT that great! Geeeeeeeeeez!! 2 stars
11/22/05 Kurtis J. Beard Brilliant. One sequence is jaw-dropping. Matrix what? 4 stars
11/21/05 skippy A few good scenes, a whole lotta crappy ones. No sale. 1 stars
11/21/05 Kibble I really didn't see what the big deal was, other than the incest and octopus-eating. 1 stars
11/06/05 Sin-Jin Smyth Yeah, TPS is right...excellently-made crap. 1 stars
11/02/05 mind dump Is vengeance worth it? Yes...therefore, this film is shit. 1 stars
11/02/05 shackle Dae su deserved vengeance and no only did he not get it...he got fucked over even worse!!!! 1 stars
10/29/05 JesseKnobs I agree...well-made but not very entertaining and really fucking sick. 1 stars
10/28/05 TPS stunningly made and truly aweful to watch 2 stars
10/26/05 Crumbcake Daughter fucking...ew. 1 stars
10/24/05 Suk-R-Punch Like a joke with no punchline? No...just like a joke. 1 stars
10/19/05 Gumbo I agree that this was totally pointless. The end was not only gross, but meaningless. 1 stars
10/17/05 Crapture GARBAGE, WORST REVENGE FILM EVER MADE...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
10/15/05 OodlesofOs The most pointless film ever made. Like a joke with no punchline, but another joke setup. 1 stars
10/14/05 gasp Shitty movie meets shitty movie meets dorky fanboys who love what others tell them to!!!!!! 1 stars
10/13/05 Agent Sands The Road Warrior meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets Saw meets Fight Club. 5 stars
10/13/05 Bryant Gumby Best revenge film, despite the fact that no revenge was actually had by the main character? 1 stars
10/12/05 Johnny Cake ...and this is 1 stars
10/11/05 CONSTANTINE AWESOME, BEST REVENGE FILM EVER MADE...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
10/10/05 Biz-e This should have been called LAMEBOY. 1 stars
9/23/05 Jakub Watch AUDITION instead... 1 stars
9/19/05 mung He eats a squid and fucks his daughter...there, you don't need to see this now. Overrated! 1 stars
9/12/05 Bloodclot critics like dung 1 stars
9/07/05 Bitchum The hallway fight was great! It was everything else that licked twat... 1 stars
9/05/05 JubJub I think this is the most overrated movie of all-time. 1 stars
9/04/05 Tjalda L. Schiel What a disgusting mess. What is wrong with you critics? Ugh. 1 stars
9/03/05 Craven I really didn't see what the big god damn deal was. I thought it blew. 1 stars
9/02/05 Mailk By the end, you feel as bad as that poor squid. 1 stars
9/02/05 Edward This was like dining upon a big, massive elephant turd. 1 stars
9/01/05 unlimited this is the most schizophrenic movie i've ever seen...'couldn't decide what it wanted to be 2 stars
8/31/05 Vasquez do you guys really watch these movies or do you just praise them based on what others say? 1 stars
8/30/05 Brisbane Possibly the most unpleasant movie I've ever sat through. 1 stars
8/29/05 Blissful Johnny Chan-wook Park: Korea's answer to Tarantino...only without that pesky talent stuff. 1 stars
8/28/05 Jabberjaw The ending was just too disgusting for, I wanted Dae-su to triumph, but he didn't 1 stars
8/28/05 hicks You loved this because everyone told you to, lapdogs. 1 stars
8/28/05 Joker What was the big deal about THIS?!?!?! 1 stars
8/26/05 cam-ron As good as everyone says...only the opposite of that. 1 stars
8/26/05 Termite There are a ton of amazing Korean films worth seeing and discussing, this isn't one of them 1 stars
8/25/05 Copper No squid, no hallway fight, no incest = no one would even mention it. 1 stars
8/24/05 salamone All the people who recommended this to me got a punch in the neck the next morning. CRAP!! 1 stars
8/22/05 MC Serch People who say "Best Movie of the Year" obviously didn't see any other movies that year. 1 stars
8/22/05 Chumscrubber God, this film is the very definition of the word OVERRATED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
8/20/05 marv If the point was "revenge is bad," why does the bad guy get away with HIS revenge? Huh???? 1 stars
8/20/05 Rever_Bear-Trap Possibly, one of the finest definitions of a psychological/revenge flick!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
8/20/05 Cardigan Geez, what film were YOU all watching? Because I'd love to see THAT one, instead of this. 1 stars
8/19/05 Gaston POOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1 stars
8/19/05 JiJi What a lame, disappointing ending. Ruined the whole experience for me. 3 stars
7/05/05 Mike The sort of film that stays with you long after you watch it 5 stars
6/30/05 cristeen69 liked the film, thought it was good, especially ji tae, incetuous overtone 4 stars
6/18/05 aldo ..not much action..story is complex...the end is disgusting 2 stars
6/01/05 Scott Reynolds Get Hammered!! 4 stars
5/17/05 Shawn Borucki Nails you in the head with a hammer. Seems predictible until it changes on a drop of a dime 4 stars
4/15/05 Jozev I felt sick after watching it but I love the creativity and the cinematography. 5 stars
4/13/05 Junior LaRoche Best movie of 2004!!!! 5 stars
4/07/05 Roderick Cromar Too horrific to be called entertainment. That octopus..... 2 stars
3/29/05 KD Like drilling your skull AND getting shot in the balls 1 stars
3/22/05 The Mockingbird terriffic sick surprising complex movie 5 stars
3/13/05 Mike An instant classic. 5 stars
2/26/05 James Kiang Excellent, though the big revelation makes it difficult to blindly recommend. 4 stars
2/14/05 neonjazz Absolutely, undoubtably a masterpiece! 5 stars
2/13/05 Niklas Salonen Absolutely no Good 2 stars
2/09/05 Chris C Amazing Movie, loved it!! 5 stars
11/03/04 Derek Horrible! Extravagant! Superb! A masterpeace! 5 stars
9/19/04 John it was a great movie. Highly Recommended 5 stars
9/02/04 Gavin Peach Excellent! I love Chan Wook Park's films and this is another truimph! 5 stars
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  25-Mar-2005 (R)
  DVD: 16-Mar-2010



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