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Oldboy (2013)

5.6
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Ratings: 5.6/10 from 22,056 users   Metascore: 49/100
Reviews: 155 user | 191 critic | 41 from Metacritic.com

Obsessed with vengeance, a man sets out to find out why he was kidnapped and locked into solitary confinement for 20 years without reason.

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Cast

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Adrian / The Stranger
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Dr. Tom Melby
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Cortez
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Browning
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Storyline

An advertising executive is kidnapped and held hostage for 20 years in solitary confinement. When he is inexplicably released, he embarks on an obsessive mission to discover who orchestrated his punishment, only to find he is still trapped in a web of conspiracy and torment. Written by FilmDistrict

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Ask not why you were imprisoned. Ask why you were set free.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong brutal violence, disturbing images, some graphic sexuality and nudity, and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 November 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Oldboy  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Joe Doucett goes to buy his daughter a birthday present, the girl working on the stall is wearing angel-wings, this is a nod to the original Oldboy film, where Oh Dae-Su buys the angel-wings for his daughter. See more »

Goofs

Joe turns on the TV and as he surf the channels a fragment of Xena: Warrior Princess is seen, but the year is 1993 and Xena did not start on TV until late 1995. See more »

Quotes

Chaney: Shit, you might wanna think about what you're doing here!
Joe Doucett: I've been thinking about it for the last 20 years.
See more »

Connections

References The Invisible Man (1933) See more »

Soundtracks

Mia Cello 3
Written and performed by Bruce Hornsby
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A remake that's just about adequate on its own merits, but is hardly a patch on the film on which it was based.
1 December 2013 | by See all my reviews

Hollywood remakes of Asian films are always an iffy proposition. How will the nuances and culturally-specific references translate across oceans and continents? Generally, however good the remakes, they rarely – if ever – eclipse the original films. In recent memory, perhaps only Martin Scorsese's The Departed, based on Infernal Affairs, has managed to find a life of its own. Other remakes, like The Lake House and Shall We Dance?, have sunk into ignominy. Spike Lee's Oldboy isn't completely terrible, but it does lose quite a bit of the dark, bruising, ambivalent flavour of Park Chan-Wook's 2003 Korean classic.

Josh Brolin takes centre stage in Lee's version. He sinks credibly into the abrasive, drunken skin of Joe Doucett, a slimy guy whose wife and daughter Mia have left him. Nevertheless, Joe continues to merrily offend everyone around him, until he is abruptly kidnapped and trapped in a hotel room for twenty years. During his arduous time spent in solitary confinement, Joe ponders the mystery of his captor. When he finally gets free, he resolves to seek revenge and re-connect with Mia – a mission that becomes increasingly fraught with complications as horrifying secrets from his past are unearthed.

On its own merits, Oldboy – the title as obtuse as ever – is passably gripping. It entertains and horrifies in equal measure, packing in a great deal of bone-crunching violence and torture that runs the gamut from physical to psychological and everything in between. The relationship that develops between Joe and charity worker Marie (Elizabeth Olsen) is well-acted, if a little forced. Lee even cooks up a pretty disturbing face-off between Joe and Chaney (Samuel L. Jackson), the guy in charge of locking up people for his clients – no questions asked.

What works rather less well is the deliberate dilution of the twist in Oldboy's tale, presumably because American audiences can only handle so much moral and emotional ambiguity. Where Park's version sees the revenge mission warped with a horrifyingly emotional dilemma, Lee's film shies away from the conundrum. As a result, the film becomes far less subtle and considerably more melodramatic. There's a flashback sequence towards the end of the film that's ridiculous enough to make audiences laugh rather than gasp, even as blood splatters across walls and families are torn apart.

The cast assembled is impressive, even though they're not really given a lot to work with in the frequently stilted, over-blown script. Brolin anchors the film with admirably stony determination, but his Joe never seems to really feel the weight of his twenty years without human contact. Olsen, too, stumbles around a bit, as if never quite sure how to play her part, and Sharlto Copley comes close to overplaying his hand when he emerges from the shadows to drop a few hints about the reasons behind Joe's ordeal.

There's enough on display in Oldboy for the film to jog by at a fairly quick clip. Lee pays tribute along the way to a few iconic elements of the Korean film – an octopus in a tank, a prolonged battle in a corridor – and the cast tries its hardest to make it all work. But it's hard to shake the feeling that something a little deeper, richer, sadder and weirder was lost in translating the film into a vernacular more pleasing to Hollywood audiences.


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Recent Posts
Disgusting... Disturbing... I felt Dirty after watching that charne99
5.5? alankj151
To everyone that likes the original, but hates this version... theendisopened
Rate - Original Vs. Remake minhal92
If this wasn't called Oldboy.. Swaglord
What would have happened if Will Smith was the lead? agentdc7
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