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Reviews & Ratings for
Oldboy More at IMDbPro »Oldeuboi (original title)

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552 out of 768 people found the following review useful:

If only we were all living in Asia....

Author: nils meester from Netherlands
19 December 2007

To start off; This is the one and only film that kept me quiet for a whole 5 mins after seeing it. I literally couldn't close my mouth, and yet there wasn't any sound coming out of it. Oldboy had such an impact on me that words are too little to describe that impact. Therefore this film is definitely in my top 3 films ever made. It belongs there because it has a massive ingredient that a lot of films seem to miss out on; a divine plot. Even though the acting and screenplay are world class, the plot is really the cherry on the cake.

When it comes to screenplay Park Chan-Wook is unique (at least for western standards) in his way of filming. The colours are so vivid and it seems like he wanted every shot to be a piece of art. One tip: If you like the shooting in 'Oldboy', have a look at 'Sympathy for Lady Vengeance', the third part in Park's revenge-trilogy. It's even superior to the camera-work in 'Oldboy'. Don't, however, expect a story like Oldboy's, because you would be very disappointed.

When it comes to acting and the music, this film is also one of the better films ever made. The music sticks in your head and every time I put in my Oldboy-DVD and the theme-song comes up, I'm just flooded with good memories (even though the plot doesn't have a single reason to be happy about). The characters are also presented very well by the outstanding cast. Especially Choi Min-Sik and Yu Ji-Tae set a very convincing performance.

I really appreciate this film being respected as it should be, by having a place in the top 250. If, however, it was up to me it would be even higher in the ranking. I don't see why films like 'The Usual Suspects' or 'Memento', which are fantastic pieces of film-making and which without a doubt deserve a place in the top 250, are higher in the top 250 than 'Oldboy'. They serve the same cause; a fantastic plot. But those plots can't stand in the shadow or even come close to the plot of 'Oldboy'. The one and only reason is that those two films are better known and from a western production company. If we were all living in Asia, no doubt 'Oldboy' would be in the top 20 of all time.

My advice to people who haven't watched this film yet: Go see it! This is definitely a must- see. If you have a weak stomach, pull yourself together and still watch it. Don't be as shallow as a lot of people here tend to be. Look beyond the violence and see the things I mentioned before: world class acting, cinematography, music and last but certainly not least the plot. Once you've opened yourself up you'll find a whole new world of cinema. Enjoy!

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431 out of 651 people found the following review useful:

Absolutely Sublime.......................................................

Author: sqreader from Doncaster, UK
2 January 2007

I've scored this a 9 but I think I may have been a little harsh! I have just read a review that says the reviewer cannot understand the hype. I can see no hype. Everything the film promised and more was delivered. This is a truly wonderful film. It is beautifully acted, brutally and painstakingly directed and as good a display of raw emotion as I have witnessed in any language. The story is gripping, the characters believable and well rounded, the emotion human and the feeling I was left with at the end of the film is one of awe. And that was after I had watched it twice. Honestly, this is a truly, truly wonderful film. Do not miss it under any circumstances!

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524 out of 856 people found the following review useful:

Pass by the "Boo" comments.

Author: tetsuoisleet from Germany
6 September 2007

After going through the comments, i must say i'm impressed how many people out there don't have a slightest clue of beauty or intelligent screenplays. there are so many comments from people that totally disliked the movie. which is plain and simple not possible, if you got an open mind and a open heart (and are not drunk). I would compare it to chocolate. You may find it too sweet and prefer bitter chocolate. or you like white chocolate more. Or you got diabetes and can only sometimes eat one. But people that totally dislike chocolate scare me to death. Same goes for Oldboy, you gotta admit some of the genius art-form it contains. Its everything in there. Its heartwarming , disgusting, intelligent, beautiful and lead with outstanding performance of any actor . You HAVE to like something, cause it wont get much better. Its chocolate. If you disliked the movie so much and on a constant basis, why even bother to write a comment? My guess is you just could not follow the movie at all. which is my only guess actually. well enough rambling.

:::::::::: Bottom Line :::::::::

If you call common sense, and a human heart your own and like "challenging" movies, go and see it NOW.(i recommend the original korean version with subs)I also recommend the pre- and sequel to this movie. (just browse Chan Wook Park) If you think "The Fast and the Furious" is the best movie ever made, please do not even bother to watch Oldboy, and spare others your "brilliant" reviews.

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337 out of 527 people found the following review useful:

One of most well-made films I've ever seen

Author: max8791 from United States
21 April 2007

I decided to check this movie out after Ebert's 4 star rave review, and the cult status this movie has received (and was also intrigued by the sexy-looking Ultimate Edition), so I decided to rent it. I was VERY surprised at how different it was than I expected it to be - I expected a ton of violence and not much in the way of writing or acting. The first time I saw it, I wasn't blown away, just kind of like whatever.

When I watched it for the second time, however, I really started to notice how well it's made, in addition to liking it more. Every shot is bursting with background detail, a great amount of attention on the production design (the theme of a certain color in a scene was restrained, yet perfectly balanced). The actors really gave it all, especially the 2 male leads who really blew me away. The music is a varied mix of beautiful classical music and some pretty cool techno. The screenplay is brilliant; the characters are developed very well, extremely complex, and the plot is not only ingenious, but the payoff and twists are 1000x better than any Shamaylan movie.

Simply put, from a technical point of view, it's one of the best movies ever. From a critic's point of view, it is a very well-done movie that goes a little overboard in sex and violence, and is just a little strange.

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226 out of 337 people found the following review useful:

Freaked me out

Author: Genevieve_X from Melbourne, Australia
29 July 2007

I haven't written a comment on IMDb for about 3 years but was inspired to with this film. It is not very often that I come across a film by accident (World Movies on cable) and the spend the next day scouring the internet to find out information about it and can't get it out of my head! Anyway, yep there are plot holes, but Old boy borrows a lot from surrealism and you are meant to suspend your disbelief! I don't buy comments when people say "it is so unrealistic because he should've done this ..." because it is a surrealist film and meant to be unrealistic! For me the sign of a good film is if it sticks on your head! THis one surely does (althought I did have to look away a few times ... ) Loved it!!!! Work of cruel genius!!! (HOLLYWOOD - Please don't ruin it by remaking it!!!)

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248 out of 382 people found the following review useful:

Excellent in it's sickness

Author: johnny-08 from Rijeka, Croatia
22 July 2007

I looked at program for today and I saw movie "Oldboy". I read plot and I liked it. What I expected is decent thriller from very good South Korean cinematography,something like "Salinui chueok ". But once again I was wrong. "Oldboy" is masterpiece, so unusual from all other movies. I've seen lots of violence on screen and to me this isn't nothing new but I think that people under 18 really shouldn't watch this one. It's because movie is brutal and I don't think that younger ones would fully understand this one.

To say something about plot is quite impossible because I don't know where to begin. If I start talking about the movie I could tell few important things and I know that people often read other comments because they didn't watch that movie. So,I'm going to say only what I read before watching this movie.

On his daughter's birthday, Oh Dae-su gets drunk and soon he's arrested by the police. His best friend No Joo-hwan somehow manages to get him out of jail and when No Joo-hwan is making a phone call Oh Dae-su disappears. Someone kidnap's him and puts him into room during 15 long years.But one day he's released.

That's the plot. Very interesting, you should watch this movie and then judge it. By the rating on IMDb this movie is in top 250 movies. Now I can understand why. This plot that I wrote doesn't reveal the greatness of the people who wrote the script. I bow to them because this movie is so good, with all those twists and it really represents a whole new wave of making a movie, of writing a script and of acting in it. About direction and actors I can say only good things. Director Park Chan-wook won prize Grand Jury at Cannes. That's enough about direction part. About actors. I can say that I'm impressed by one actor:Choi Min-sik. He's amazing in major role and he showed great potential. I hope I will see him again in some good movie.

I cannot say anything more because I could reveal some secret and I don't wanna do that to all new viewers. Only a recommendation. Beautiful, intelligent masterpiece of movie that I highly recommend for everyone with strong stomach and too all of you who want to see one excellent, but sick story. 10/10

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607 out of 1114 people found the following review useful:

Didn't like it much at all

Author: (dj_bassett) from Philadelphia
24 April 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Armond White of the NY Press has called it a "virtuosic stupid movie". I think that's exactly right.

Certainly the movie looks fantastic. I liked the surrealistic touches. I think the director has a real imaginative way of capturing the process of memory -- there's an extended flashback about 3/4 way through which I think is as well conceived and shot as anything I've seen. The acting is standout. Hell, I even liked the score.

But the movie almost aggressively makes no sense.

SPOILERS Leave aside for a moment the obvious plot holes, large and small -- although it's worth noting that there's a whole lot of them. Leave aside the contrivances, too: the endless special gadgets the bad guy comes up with just when he needs them, the rather magical view of hypnosis, Dae-Su's magical new abilities, the seeming omnipotence of the badguy. Let's assume all this is beside the point, and that we're supposed to take the movie more or less symbolically ala FIGHT CLUB (probably the closest reference).

The movie doesn't make any sense thematically, either. What's it really about? The virtue of keeping your mouth shut? The movie seems to suggest that the bad guy's sexual relationship with his sister is just fine, the problem seems to be Dae-Su's big mouth. The movie rather laboriously teaches this: the sister kills herself because of the rumors which somehow the sister believes to be true (?); Dae-Su becomes convinced that he was, in fact, at fault; Dae-Su cuts his own tongue out; Dae-Su pleads that Mi-do never learn the truth; Dae-Su even ends up brainwashing himself via hypnosis to forget the truth -- or "keep his mind shut", in a sense. I mean, huh? This is a pretty juvenile kind of ethics, to be blunt about it. Although Dae-Su is the protagonist the movie really doesn't seem to be on his side. It also hints at a weird kind of passivity: for all of the hammer swinging and octopus eating, Dae-Su doesn't really do all that much: things are done to him, and eventually he begins to internalize the abuse given to him.

Is it about the futility of revenge? One would think, particularly with the references to COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO. But leaving aside the notion that Dae-Su's tormentor's omnipresence seems to weigh against the notion of him and Mi-do doing anything, really, but take their lumps or try to fight back, the fact that Dae-Su is considered by the movie to have really "done" something makes any critique pretty complicated. Remember, in COUNT Dantes is a true innocent. His motives are as pure as revenge ever gets -- that's why Dumas's ultimate critique, his ultimate notion that revenge even for the Count is wrong works so well. The force is seen in isolation. Here, though, it seems more a case of Dae-Su learning how "bad" he really is. He shouldn't take revenge because he really IS at fault.

I guess you could argue that the movie shows revenge is futile from the bad guy's point of view. Then why are we watching Dae-Su at all? Maybe the point is that everyone feels themselves righteous until they realize the true dimensions of their "sin". But I don't see a lot of people facing up to facts in the movie: I see a lot of denial, in fact. Dae-Su admits to his relatively "minor" sin but can't face up to his "major" one.

After I saw this I read some interviews with the cast and crew, and apparently some of this vagueness is intentional -- we're supposed to be left unsure. Well, the movie is successful in that, but I think it's an unworthy goal, an abdication of the artist's responsibility. People have bristled at the charge that this movie is nihilistic, but if that really is the point, that the movie's supposed to throw up it's hands and say, "hey, I dunno, you figure it out", then that truly is nihilism.

Ah well, I could go on, but I won't bore you. A virtuosic stupid movie indeed, I think: often amazing to watch but underneath the surface just a whole bunch of muddleheadedness.

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261 out of 425 people found the following review useful:

One step ahead of America

Author: ryuakamrvengeance from United Kingdom
7 March 2007

Oldboy takes a hammer and "batters" its American equivalents, leaving them as pulped as a chewed up squid. Park Chan Wook displays what America misses with his ultra-stylish, ultra-violent thriller. Why watch Ben Affleck fail spectacularly to summon any displayable talent, when Min sik Choi serves up a memorable role as the disturbed, vengeful Dae Su Oh, in the second of the Vengeance trilogy. Park skillfully creates a compelling plot that will have you guessing through the entire film, up until the final shocking revelation. The Cinematography expertly done by Jeong-hun Jeong, who also worked on the follow up to this film, Chinjeolhan geumjassi. Everything about this film is done in style and panache and creates a memorable experience, and has many memorable scenes.

Many people accuse this film of being "unrealistic". These people forget that this a film, not a documentary. No one complains About Star Wars being unrealistic, and rightly so. Films have a right to stretch out reality, don't forget the reason it does this is to be entertaining.

Although the film has strong violence of a graphic nature, I advise you to watch it, if only to broaden your perspectives of world and Asian cinema.

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220 out of 353 people found the following review useful:

Great film!

Author: lucas739 from United Kingdom
17 March 2007

I feel compelled to defend this film from some quite frankly unwarranted criticism. Although it isn't without its flaws, and all films have a few,it certainly isn't a one star film.What this film has is the ability to be sublime, shocking, ridiculous, mildly amusing and visually stunning which is some feat for any film.The sheer scale of the comments here suggests that here is a film that gets to you in one way or another. This film is as far away from Maborosi as you can get yet both films are up there as great pieces of cinema. I wont divulge the plot or end this comment with a Latin quote to reinforce my self importance i'll just say go and watch it, preferably if you're not too squeamish and don't mind subtitles.This film left me thinking about it the following day which is normally a good thing (atleast it shows my memory is working!)

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655 out of 1236 people found the following review useful:

What am I missing?

Author: susanandsophie from United States
25 April 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie was awful, plain and simple. It will probably be revered by those who only see "films" and not "movies" and will therefore feel sorry for me for having such a limited understanding of the theatrical brilliance of this film, but I am secure enough in my intellect to say that this boring, self-aggrandizing and painfully drawn-out movie was a waste of two hours and nine dollars.

I was suckered into seeing this by the inexplicable good reviews it had been receiving and came out of the theater thinking that those reviews had to have been written by over-excited film students and the aforementioned group of individuals who shun regular movies, perhaps for fear that they may actually enjoy one someday.

The storyline is quite a promising one - a man is imprisoned for 15 years, never knowing his captor nor his crime. He is then abruptly released and given just five days to discover the identity and reason of the man who imprisoned him. However, the great concept soon disintegrates into a pathetic joke as Oh Dae-Su runs around beating people up, trying to have sex with a young girl who is attempting to use the toilet and eating a live, writhing squid (presumably for dramatic effect, as there is absolutely no other reason for it). All the while he is trying to figure out this horrible thing he did to earn himself fifteen years in jail, and when he finally finds out it is both ridiculous and a major letdown. His nemesis, a man who supposedly went to school with him when he was a young man, looks like a Banana Republic model twenty years younger than him. Hey, I know prison has been hard on Oh Dae-Su, but is it too much to ask to find an actor that looks a bit closer to his age? Of all the things wrong with this movie, this one seems like the easiest one to fix.

And the big secret - the one that kept me in my seat for 90 minutes when I could have been out doing something productive - is some joke of a plot line involving incest and a rumor started in high school. Come on! Throw us a bone here - was that really the best they could do? I sat through stupid dialogue, over-acting, gloomy sets and gratuitous violence for this? (By the way - I'm not at all against violence in a film if it seems to fit the story, but in this case it seems I was forced to watch our hero knock out someone's front teeth and cut off his own tongue with a pair of scissors in order to distract me from figuring out I was wasting my afternoon watching a pretentious piece of garbage).

Take my advice - do something else with your time and money. Or take your nine dollars and go see a lowly "movie" - one that you might actually enjoy.

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