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

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11 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Maybe it's just the cultural barrier

Author: Ryan M
22 June 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This movie was highly regarded and I was expecting to see something unique and appealing. Unique - yes. Appealing - no.

First off, any time a movie contains a scene in it that does not contribute to the plot and is simply there to disgust you (him eating the live Octopus), I write it off as being a cheap flick looking to impress teenagers and young adults who cling to things like that.

But what really got me about this movie was the ending. Why oh why did the main character cut his own tongue off and bark like a dog? Was 15 years not enough? Everyone has spread rumors. The guy's sister was a psycho. She killed herself because she was nuts. Not because of the rumor. She was the one having sex with her brother in the first place, so you knew a screw was loose in the first place. She was bound to kill herself, rumor or not. If this movie was made by someone with a brain, the main character would have beat down the incestuous brother after he found out that he was screwing his own daughter due to 15 years of hypnosis ordered by the sister-screwer.

The reaction of cutting out his own tongue is a unique one because 99.99999% of people wouldn't have done that in that situation. Most people would have been like, "What is wrong with you, you psychotic sister screwer? You lock me up for 15 years and hypnotize me to screw my own daughter as revenge for a piddly high school rumor? Seriously?" And then you would have beat him down into the ground, pulled out his teeth and thrown him out of the window. It would have been a much better ending to an overdone and overly gory (this is coming from someone who likes Saw movies) movie. I know I'm not the only one to think this because the other people watching the movie with me completely agreed that the main character was stupid for cutting out his tongue and barking like a dog.

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12 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Just no

Author: Alex da Silva from United Kingdom
5 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

*****Classic ****Excellent ***Good **Fair *Tragic


Oldboy is not for everyone. It's pervasive violence, its live octopus eating and it's unimaginary story.

The film focuses around a man who's been kidnapped and is imprisoned for 15 years, Oh Dae-Su is released, only to find that he must find his captor in 5 days. Now the story though may seem gripping to start with but once watching this bloated and un-original blood fest it develops into a mash of bitter blood and a forceful film.

It's directing is on par of average and by no means the standards of what a South Korean thriller should be. Oldboys acting scenes are paralleled with dull humour and a poorly writtern script.

Oldboy is occasionlly presented with thin straw performances that one could only feel shameful about.


Not for everyone but it's scope and vision isn't clear enough to see further than the grey abyss of fog.


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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

one of the best

Author: Che 19c94 from Ethiopia
26 July 2013

If i were you i would see this movie as fast as possible before the Spike Lee version comes out and the movie is sodomized. It's not hard to tell, from the movie's poster, that it is going to be same thing. It isn't because i hate Spike Lee or something, it is because i don't believe the movie could be made to be as good as this one. I would also recommend knowing as little as possible about the story of the movie before watching it.

this is one of the best foreign language movies i have ever seen my entire life. the movie has a plot that is to die for and the last revelation would either amuse or give you a heart attack. The most engrossing thing about it is that it doesn't shock by using violence or unnecessary amount of gore but with a beautifully put together plot.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Loved the movie but no idea what it was about

Author: Michael Terceiro from Sydney, Australia
28 October 2010

This is an excellent movie, which I really enjoyed. However, I must admit I did not really understand most of the movie. While it is a bit strange saying that I enjoyed a movie which is so hard to follow, there are a lot of reasons to like this movie.

First, it is not like any movie I had seen before. It is creative without being silly or indulgent. The director is continually having great ideas which on almost every occasion come off.

Second, the acting is quite excellent. The way the actors react to events is quite captivating. They do strange things, normal things and just everyday mundane things in a totally believable way.

Third, the movie has some fairly humorous parts, even though it is a very serious movie. Look out for a couple of scenes in particular, for example the octopus scene and the attempted seduction scene. Hysterical.

Finally, the use of colour in the movie is very effective. Most of the movie is characterised by loud, vibrant colours. However the director sometimes uses black and white and duller colours to excellent effect.

In short, this is the type of movie that you just can't turn away from. You will be continually asking yourself what could possibly happen next. I am sure that with each repeat viewing you will pick up many different things which you missed first or second or third time around.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

You will want to watch more than once

Author: ARTSinAlabama from United States
25 August 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

South Korea is enjoying a historical-first exporting of culture to the West. Americans have long been importing European culture, but with so much noise coming from the South Korean wave, now is the perfect time to take a look out east. And, as an introduction to a large library of outstanding Korean movies, Park Chan-Wook's 2003 thriller Oldboy will exemplify 21st century Korean art.

The storyline for Oldboy is hard to discuss without spoiling too many twists. On a random night, the protagonist Oh Dae-Su (Choi Min-sik) is kidnapped outside a phone booth. He's then held in solitary confinement for fifteen years, receiving daily meals and arbitrary hair cuts. The day of his fifteenth year in prison, he's released and immediately starts investigating who imprisoned him and why.

The plot, while interesting, is not what gives this film the strength to survive a market saturated with thrillers. This movie is very smart for what one would expect in a thriller genre and carries many messages about revenge, violence, redemption and the ability to forget. When Oh figures out the reason for his incarceration, why is he dissatisfied? And even more poignant, why is the audience dissatisfied? A viewer expecting to turn his or her brain off as soon as action starts will probably miss what makes this such an amazing movie.

Oldboy's action sequences serve more purpose than to get the audience's heart pumping. Park Chan-Wook does an amazing job using action to reveal character motives and internal struggles. During one unedited scene, Oh battles through a hallway filled with gangsters wielding blunt weapons and knives. He isn't stronger, faster or better trained than any of his opponents, but instead fights on pure rage. At one point, Oh is stabbed in the back and falls to the ground while everyone surrounds him and assumes he's dead. Instead of something over the top, Oh does the only realistic thing that can be done at that point and uses a hammer to crush the feet of a few people around him. Frightened, his enemies jump back, giving Oh enough room to recover. The scene ends not when everyone is dead or unconscious, but instead the gangsters just don't want to fight. Oh staggers out, unpursued, because nobody wants to continue fighting a frothing caged animal.

Many critics comment on the violence in Oldboy. There is plenty of violence; enough for Quentin Tarantino to fall in love with the film and assist in awarding it a Grand Prix of the Jury at Cannes. But much of the violence occurs off-screen and in the head of the audience. During one scene, while Oh tortures someone that was in his path, the viewer sees less blood than any scene in Saw or The Expendables. But many will find themselves wincing since imagination fills in the rest of the details.

This is a movie that viewers will likely rewatch. Except for a few gems, this summer has been lackluster in memorable films. The best way to end summer is to grit your teeth and read some subtitles (the movie is dubbed in English, but the speakers can't capture the same level of emotion), and take a look at how artistic and wonderful the thriller genre can be in the right hands. Erik Hagen

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

A true piece of Asian culture!

Author: kluseba from Chicoutimi, Canada
20 August 2010

This movie got everything that a good movie needs and deserves absolutely its place within the one hundred best movies of all times on this site!

It has its own and unique character because of a typical Asian strange atmosphere, an excellent acting, some very good ideas and interesting twists throughout the movie. You have a twisted revenge story mixed with a fatal love story in a very philosophical and moral context that makes the viewers judge and think a lot. Topics and antithesis like future and past, love and hate, revenge and forgiveness are all covered by the story and lie much closer than one may expect. The topics and the story with all its twists are complex, but very easy to understand for everyone and it is easy to approach to this movie although it is a very unique and special one. Even after several views, the movie remains profound and surprises you and is still entertaining - no matter for watching it alone at home or during a little alternative DVD night with friends with whom you may surely discuss about this piece of art!

The film is a rare masterpiece, heavy and disturbing, but not because of a few very well done gore and action scenes, but because of the profound and twisted stories of the main characters who are all lost sinners in a very fatal way. The movie has the class to be more than an inside tip but a mainstream movie, but in the same time, the movie is far away from the ordinary revenge stories and doesn't deny his Asian flows and roots. It is a very intellectual, philosophical and personal movie, but some excellent, absurd and even artistic action, crime movie and horror elements keep the tension high so that this movie doesn't have any lengths. It is more than an entertaining movie and when you've seen it once, you will surely fall in love with it and this film request multiple viewings!

It is fascinating how profound and artistic the Asian cinema is in comparison to a too serious European cinema and a too superficial North American cinema an this movie is an excellent example for this fact and may convince you to get more connected to the Asian cinema. Let's hope that there will be no American remake because of this movie's international inside success, because they won't be able to create the same kind of uniqueness and atmosphere. This movie is a true piece of Eastern culture!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Pain brought out in one weapon

Author: Paul Celano (chelano) from Howell, MI USA
19 August 2010

This movie just gets more and more intense until the end when you get shocked by the conclusion. The story is very good and will keep you interested till the very end. Min-sik Choi was amazing in this film. Imagine being locked up for 15 years. Now your cell is not bad, it is like a small dorm room with bad wallpaper. But you are fed the same food everyday and all you have is a crappy TV to watch. Being stuck in that small space will drive you nuts. You also find out by the TV that life is changing and that your wife is murdered and they say it was you. Yet it can't be because you are locked up. What do you do to keep yourself sane. Min-sik Choi's character Dae-su just became a beast within himself. A beast full of revenge against the character played by Yu Ji-tae who was also excellent. The rest of the cast is also great and really know how to act. The story is just one big pain in the mind. You try to figure it out and you can't be absolutely sure you got it, till the end of the film. And when that comes, you won't believe what happens. Great film and probably one of the best in that year from South Korea.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Best revenge film I've seen

Author: hodgeian76
15 May 2014

This is without doubt my favourite foreign film, and is also my favourite revenge film. It's intricate yet easy to follow, very well paced and dark and brooding enough to make you identify well with the lead characters hell.

An absolute must for all enthusiasts of this type of movie. It will keep you gripped from the moment go as you try and make sense of the situation at hand, and it doesn't stop there as you try and connect the characters and their sub plots throughout the film.

As is typical in this type of movie, this all culminates in an enthralling finale as the full story unfolds and the deep dark twists reveal themselves which will leave you gawping at the screen as the credits roll. You will leave this thinking 'what the f$$k', and if you are like me wanting to reload and watch again immediately.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Not my personal type of movie, but really good for what it is

Author: Samuel Cannon
16 May 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

(This Review is originally from my blog at Feel free to check out my other reviews)

Oldboy is probably the most famous South Korean film in the entire world, and since it's being remade by Spike Lee this year, I figured I'd watch the original film to see what the fuss was about.

And wow. Wow. Wow.

So, I'm just going to go SPOILER this time, because anyone who wants to see it probably already has.

So this guy, Oh Dae Su, is kidnapped and kept in solitary confinement for fifteen years, the only contact with the outside world being the guards that feed him and never talk, and the television in his room. Suddenly, after fifteen years, he is set free, and decides to find out why he was kept inside that room for fifteen years.

So then he meets this girl at a sushi bar, eats a live octopus whole, and then faints. He wakes up in her house, and a very awkward, sexually tense relationship begins as the two try and find out who put him in prison.

Eventually, they find a security guard at the place he was kept, and try to find out who captured him by pulling his teeth out with a hammer. (By the way, this film is really gruesome) and then the famous single-take fight sequence begins, and it's really good. That's definitely the highlight of the film, and there's nothing else that quite matches up to it in the rest, unfortunately.

Finally, following a couple of deaths, sex with the random girl, and several close calls to the man behind everything, he finally catches up to the man, who reveals everything that happened.

So Oh Dae Su and the bad guy used to go to the same school, and the villain had this rather, um, inappropriate relationship with his sister. Oh Dae Su, on his last day at the school, sees this, and spreads a rumor around the school, not realizing that they were siblings. She starts having signs of pregnancy, and commits suicide.

Then the villain, in anguish, decides to enact revenge, kidnaps Oh Dae Su, keeps him away from his daughter for fifteen years, then releases him and with help from a hypnotist, gets Oh Dae Su to fall in love with his daughter, the girl at the sushi bar.

So then, Oh Dae Su is stricken with guilt, begs the villain to not tell the girl, and cuts off his tongue for no reason, resulting in the villain letting him go, and killing himself.

So now, Oh Dae Su tracks down the hypnotist and gets her to make him forget about the identity of the girl he met at the sushi bar, so that they can continue their relationship without the guilt in Oh Dae Su's heart.

What the heck.

Yes, this movie is really well made and brutal, but it's also all kinds of messed up. I have no idea how they're going to remake this for more conservative American cinema, but a lot of the plot twists have to be readjusted for the remake.

It's really a personal preference, but this sort of stuff just makes me uncomfortable sitting there, watching it.

So yeah, it's good. Just make sure you know what you're going into, if you haven't seen it yet.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

brilliant brilliant brilliant

Author: ozi_wozzy from United Kingdom
18 August 2011

I'll echo the majority of the viewers' sentiments, this film is brilliant.

I really did not know what to expect when I first sat down to watch it, except that I'd hoped it would be a good thriller from a well respected Korean director.

And that's how you should approach this film if you haven't watched it, expect nothing, because that's when you get the most out of it. I've read a couple of reviews regarding the "incomprehensible" plot and "rambling storyline" and it beggars belief how these people have come to this conclusion.

In terms of plot and storyline, it's one of the most original and tightly controlled I've ever watched. From the start, when a man is put in a private jail without explanation for 15 years, you're drawn into the story. Then it just gets better.

Acting by the two central characters, the antagonist and the protagonist - at times they easily swap places, such is the clever story line and the brilliant acting - is outstanding. The energy and the inner rage with which both go about the roles was just brilliant to watch.

The music score was pretty much perfect for any film I've come across and the main melody is as memorable as any you're likely to come across in any medium.

The twists are not over-egged, as they don't need to be, and the gut-wrenching, brutal yet emotionally charged penultimate scene will stay with you for a long time afterwards. This film is in my top 10 of all time. Just watch it with an open mind. It's a great, great film.

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