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Feb 28, 2003

Dude, I See God!

Directed by: Park Chan-Wok
Starring: Choi Min-Sik, Yu Ji-Tae

Oldboy is a difficult movie to review. It's one of those movies that it is best to walk into knowing as little as possible. So I'm going to try to do a quick review of this without giving too much away.

Oldboy is probably one of the most hyped film among Asian movie fanboys coming out of South Korea at the moment(and just had a showing at Cannes) who directed the very well-received cult film, Sympahy For Mr. Vengence.

Oh Desau(Choi Min-Sik) finds himself locked in a room, with only himself and a TV. He finds himself offered no human interaction whatsoever, forcing his TV to be his only connection with the outside world. He has no idea why someone would do this to him, nor who is responsible. He is kept in this prison for 15 years and is finally released back into the world, given a cell phone(which his captor uses to taunt him) and wallet by a stranger, and begins his quest to discover the who and why, and deliver revenge upon the person(s) responsible.

Oldboy is a very slick, dark, twisted...and just plain hosed up. I don't think I've ever seen a movie quite like this one. Like the last film from Chan-Wok, Sympathy for Mr. Vengence, the cinematography in this film helps aid the films bleak, dark comic tone, however thankfully, this film is much more briskly paced. In fact, this film is an editing spectacle. Part of what makes this film so visually appealing is the slick camerawork combined with creative editing tricks...characters actions seemlessly fade into each other, a train seemingly rides through a closed room...and there is a strikingly innovative scene where Oh Desau takes on a gang of thugs with a hammer in a stunning 5 minute action sequence that is done on ONE COMPLETE EDIT.

Rarely would I give anything a five star review...but I honestly can't figure out anything wrong with this can be a tad bit confusing but this type of film is really meant to be. I can't recommend this movie enough. See it when you get the chance.


PROS: great performances, extroadinarily slick editing, intriguing mystery
CONS: really, none I can think of



Sep 11, 2001

For Sound Financial Pranning!

I have heard so much about this from a friend who saw it at Harry Knowles' Butt Numb-A-Thon in December. Apparently, it is an instant classic.

Feb 3, 2004

I am HOT for this film. I cannot recommend it highly enough. it's the best loving film i've seen in my whole stinking life.

Now available on DVD (region 3).

edit 5.5/5

kimcheeking fucked around with this message at 15:15 on Jun 1, 2004

Sep 20, 2002

Had to give the movie a 4.5 if only for the fact that I enjoyed Sympathy for Mr Vengence more then this movie. It is an amazing film, and Park Chan-Wok is truly a master of his craft.

EDIT: Changed vote to 5, just watched it again and enjoyed it much more the second time

zandert33 fucked around with this message at 14:45 on Sep 15, 2004

Oct 6, 2003

in ur chest, meltin ur heart

This was an amazing movie. One of the strangest, darkest films I've ever seen. I've never felt quite so screwed with after seeing a movie as I did after this. It's definitely worth all the hype.

Aug 2, 2003

Oldboy was as intense as any movie I've ever seen. The atmosphere, acting, directing, and plot were all great. I don't know if it's the best movie I've ever seen, but it's definitely up there with the rest of them.


May 20, 2001

I thought Oldboy was an interesting movie with a nice twist ending. But if you don't normally like asian movies you probably won't change your mind because of this one. It has the same problem with pretentiousness as most non-comedy asian movies I've ever seen, trying way too hard to be cool and hard to understand.


Jul 28, 2000

This movie was very well done, and the sheer horror of being captured without an explanation for 15 YEARS came over well. The hammer scene was one of the best action scenes I've ever seen, it reminded me of sidescrolling beat-em-ups. Very original, and oh so good.

Feb 19, 2004
the chair is armed - repeat - the chair is armed

This story is horrible, depressing, and original. I am deeply disturbed by this movie and I would not recommend people to see it.

Rated 0.5/5

Jul 28, 2002

Run you jerk with an EYE FOR QUALITY you! Run!

Nap Ghost

Slick, hip, with a great visual style that is "modern" while not becoming overbearing. The plot has more twists then your sister's panties pun intended and never becomes too fast nor too slow. Basically the perfect blend of plot, style, sex and violence to make an unforgettable movie.

4.5, highly recommended.

Apr 21, 2003

Full of bologna

One of the most original films I've ever seen. Definatly not one to be taken lightly, however.


Oct 1, 2002


H... h.... holy gently caress.

Not for the faint of heart. And I agree with the hammer scene... loving awesome.

Edit: WHY IS THIS A 4.4

Kunabomber fucked around with this message at 18:11 on Jun 26, 2004

Nov 21, 2002

American movies could only hope to be this drat good. 5


The score is brilliant, its been months since I watched it and still can't get some of the tunes out of my head.

alpineg60 fucked around with this message at 23:50 on Aug 17, 2004

Dec 14, 2003
Also, one month my toilet broke, and I just went straight in the garbage can!

atmosphere was very well kept to throughout, clever plot (which avoided being *too* pretentious), brilliant acting, and awesome action sequences. totally agreeing with the praise for the hammer scene, was pretty much gobsmacked for the entire sequence.

rated 5, has made me want to watch sympathy for mr vengance too.

Jan 8, 2004

by R. Guyovich

ground floor on

oh desau you silly you

5/5 great film great film, action, interesting plot, what is not to like....

Grigori Rasputin
Aug 21, 2000


Voted a 4.5 because I thought the reason for his imprisonment was too great of a leap. The film redeemed itself by giving me a few moments to ponder the horror of the future of Daesu and Mido's relationship. What do they continue on as: Lovers? Father and daughter? Is it better for them to commit suicide?

I'm a sucker for Oedipal tragedies.

Oct 1, 2002



Grigori Rasputin came out of the closet to say:

Voted a 4.5 because I thought the reason for his imprisonment was too great of a leap. The film redeemed itself by giving me a few moments to ponder the horror of the future of Daesu and Mido's relationship. What do they continue on as: Lovers? Father and daughter? Is it better for them to commit suicide?

I'm a sucker for Oedipal tragedies.
I don't think you got just how hosed up this movie is, and even amidst that hosed-uppery, how much the villain was sick in the head.

Jul 15, 2003

by Ozma

Wow, I imported the DVD of this film based on hearing about the film here. I have to say this is one sick demented film that everyone should see. Everything in this film was suburb although part of the plot twist is predictable which is probably done intentionally to add suspense of what's going to happen next.

Rating: 5

Apr 10, 2004
Fascists do it for the Fatherland.

Oh god, Oldboy, when i saw first as a straight-forward movie, i was terribly impressed, by the cinematography, the acting, the music. In the first five minutes i was sucked in. Halfway though i realized this is not your ordinary great film. At the end i was in a complete daze. A truly remarkable film that while not truly for the faint of heart, it is a masterpiece that should be seen by those who can appreciate fine film.


Jan 9, 2003

by Lowtax

I just finished watching it and am still digesting the final shot.

We root for our protagonist, but we don't want him to root his daughter. But if the hynosis was successful and neither of them know of the true nature of their relationship, does that make the relationship less objectionable? What does Oh Desau's expression in the closing shot tell us?

Films that leave you thinking and asking questions like these long after they've finished are few and far between, so this was a massively refreshing, if intensley upsetting experience. The slow unraveling of the plot is so perfectly bolstered by the visual inventiveness and inspired performances that it becomes a pleasure rather than a chore to ponder the fractured narrative structure (I'm looking at you 21 grams) with the closing sequence brilliantly bringing everything together.

Rating: 5 - Can't recommend this enough. Even if only for the awesome claw hammer rampage fight scene.

Jack Frost
Jul 15, 2004

Daddy? Oh no...

When I first read a review for this film at I had NO IDEA how loving popular this film was. I bought it online, it arrived today, and it took me several hours to get through. It was entirely worth it.
The movie is so hosed up and personal in some points that I just had to pause it, walk away, think about it a while and come back. It's one of those movies where you're going to have to keep watching several times in order to pick up on everything. I'll be watching it again at some point in the coming week.
I have not seen a more emotionally disturbed antagonist in some time, and I have NEVER seen a more disturbed protagonist in any movie I've seen.
Without a doubt, 5/5.

Susano-maku da!
Nov 12, 2003

Hi. Did you order the Mongolian… Beef?

I wrote off the "Korean New Wave" cinema as overblown and overhyped until I saw this. I take everything back.


Aug 11, 2004

Park Chan Wook is on a loving streak. JSA is incredible (and depressing), Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is incredible (and gut-wrenchingly depressing), and Oldby is incredible.

Amazing camera work with this movie. Every shot is framed interestingly or has some interesting to look at. The pacing is the best out of the director's three movies, and it keeps moving even though the movie is fairly long. The movie is stylish without losing its hard edge (the original Korean dialogue is especially stylish). Oh Daesu was a great, tragic character, but the antagonist was king. Cool and incredibly hosed up at the same time. His last scene is priceless.

I can't recommend this movie (and all the other movies of Park Chan Wook) enough.


May 29, 2002

This movie gets to IT for me, the very loving core. Everyone should see this regardless of where you come from.

One of the best pieces of cimema I have ever seen.


Jan 11, 2004

by Ozma

Amazing. Every single scene in the movie plays an important role in the movie. It doesnt get any better.


Aug 17, 2000

Was gonna give this a 4.5 until I read that the hallway fight scene (the 5 minute one) was done in ONE EDIT. Wow.


Great character development, some fantastic cinematography (oh daesu's return to his school, from 2 POV's), brilliant story, and top notch acting. Oh, beautiful soundtrack as well. The only thing holding it back from a 5.5 is it's pacing -- it felt rushed, didn't leave a lot of time for things to sink in.

Mar 19, 2003


I ebayed the two disc special edition of this disc after a friend of mine showed me the hallway scene. It is, without question, one of the best action sequences I've ever seen. Number one with a bullet.

I've never been so gripped by a plot and rode the story like I did with this one. The build up is intense. Oh Daesu is a man committed to his vengeance. Watching him stalk through every scene, obsessed with his mission is chilling. Min Sik is unbelievable to watch as he acts.

I haven't been tapped into the asian movie scene in some time, and my experiences with Korean movies have been pretty disappointing in the past, but this flick makes up for Don't Tell Me and Shiri. I would rank it high on my list of favorite movies from the last five years.

Every second of this movie is gripping. The buildup gets you ready for some serious revenge action, but the climax is one of the most insane revelations ever put to film. I thought Cartman's plan revealed at the end of the South Park episode, Scott Tenorman Must Die, was some heavy plotting. This plot is as dense as dark matter.

If you have the opportunity to see this movie, do so. If you have the luxury of a region free DVD player (or a Region 3 player for that matter) do yourself a favor and order this movie.

No doubt about it, this one gets a 5

Sep 3, 2003

This thread made me order the 2-disc SE version. I found it, in stock, for $24 at The best part? They shipped my order an hour after I placed it! So for anyone wanting to order this, grab it here:

I know this isn't a discussion forum, so I'll update this with my review as soon as I see the film (creaming myself in anticipation.)

The movie arrived today, and I just finished watching it. As of right now, I don't really know what to think. The ending was deeply disturbing, all things taken into account. The movie as a whole was amazing. I really can't think of a more original plot than Oldboy. The ending to the movie was pretty fast paced, so I'm sure I'll have to re-watch it in order to fully understand all the elements of the story, but there is a lot to be pondered. I'm impressed at this movie, but what impresses me more, is that I know it will grow on me the more I watch it and the more I think about it.

While I was watching it, I did have one nagging fear: This movie is too good not to be remade by Americans. Whle some might say this is good, I disagree. I don't like it when Americans rip off good movies from other countries and remake them (ie Ringu, Insomnia.) Sure it'll make them more marketable to American audiences, but why the hate for pure foreign cinema?


jototo fucked around with this message at 03:51 on Aug 24, 2004

dead windows kid
Nov 25, 2003

Good, but I feel dissapointed.

How could she not know that he was her father, the much sought after murderer? It seemed there were a few plot holes that prevented me from fully enjoying the (already open-ended) ending.

I can see why tarintino liked it though

dead windows kid fucked around with this message at 07:19 on Aug 21, 2004

Aug 11, 2004


David Violence came out of the closet to say:
Good, but I feel dissapointed.

How could she not know that he was her father, the much sought after murderer? It seemed there were a few plot holes that prevented me from fully enjoying the (already open-ended) ending.

I know this isn't a discussion forum, but this needs to be answered. She was being raised by Woo Jin since she was 3, and plus Woo Jin was hypnotizing her. I think it'd be fairly easy to imprint a completely different life onto a 3 year old..

Not really a plot hole.

Feb 4, 2001

by Livestock

I thought it was pretty cool but like some people said there were plot holes.

There was a spoiler here. It's gone now.


Somebody fucked around with this message at 15:54 on Oct 19, 2005

Jan 26, 2004

Where's my face?

One crazy movie. A must see TV. 5/5

Jul 23, 2003

While the movie was interesting, I didn't enjoy it as much as the hype in this thread suggested. Perhaps it was because of the few plot holes, or maybe the way the camera cut to different things in a weird way. Either way it was somewhat difficult for me to follow. Still, an entertaining movie with an interesting plot. 3.5

Nov 30, 2002

They sure look ripe to me.

As stated, very good and very well-made, but certainly not as good as had been described to me. There are a lot of weird plot elements in this movie, (seriously, I know it's a movie, but where are the police?) and I think it may range a little into the "hosed-up for the sake of being hosed-up" objections that I have to most Takashi Miike films. I mean, I didn't really feel like I got anything out of it when it was done, just a bit...numbed.

That sounds worse than it is. Certainly, this movie is nowhere near in a league with Miike's work, and it is a very good story. I can honestly say I haven't seen one quite like it in any other movie. The way the director presented it really interested and impressed me. Overall, I'm giving it 4 stars. Very interesting and well-done. And yes, the fight with the hammer is exceptionally good.

Aug 6, 2004

by Mayor Wilkins

I never thought I'd post in this forum because I'm not very interested in movies in general, but I had to say Oldboy is loving amazing and it is a travesty that it isn't a perfect 5. I like very few movies but this was just incredible. The directing, the acting, the plot twists, good lord how can anyone possibly see a downside to this movie?

Aug 22, 2003

Got miself a nice little earner, isn't it

Have just watched the two-disk SE and have to say that I'm blown away. A fantastically well made movie with an outstanding plot. As a kid I had to deal with a similar, but completely untrue, rumor as Woo-jin and remember wishing serious revenge, so the movie really struck home with me in certain respects.

I can't say I was particularly impressed with the hammer fight though. Most people didn't get hit and just seemed to fall over, leaving them down for the rest of the scene. It was good, especially for one edit, but not that good. Apart from that, there is little else to pick out as being anything short of awesome.

Overall, this is one of the best films I've seen this year and can't recommend it enough.


Zoobtro fucked around with this message at 20:31 on Aug 30, 2004

Jun 23, 2004

I just watched Oldboy a few hours ago and I didn't really like it. It was stylish, disturbing, somewhat interesting, and most of the acting was good, but the plot sounded like it came out of a stupid comic book (apparently it did).

Additionally, the fight scenes that have been praised are not that great. I like the fact that they don't do speed cuts like most Hollywood movies, but the fact that people just fall down and clearly are not hurting Daesu isn't a whole lot better (you still have to use your imagination a bit).

In the end, I felt that this film was yet another well-made movie that was based on a crazy script.


Mr. Sleep
Aug 2, 2003

Outstanding film whose beautiful cinematography and editing are contrasted by its sick and disturbing subject matter. All the characters were entirely believeable in their roles, and the score for this film was extraordinarily well-done and utilized. My new favorite Korean movie.


Feb 26, 2004

This brilliant, occasionally punishing Korean film is one of the best I've seen this year. The plot may be a little implausable, but whilst watching it the kinetic style with which it is presented and considerable psychological weight of the premise far outweigh it's failings. On reflection it may not fully hold water at all points but given the film is, at heart, a sci-fi movie grafted onto a tragedy of ancient Greek proportions, a little suspension of disbelief goes a long way.

Considering that it is not a fight driven movie, I must say that it contains probably the best fight scene I have seen in recent times. The five minute one take brawl in a corridor, shot in a stylized manner reminiscent of a video game, is a loving gem the likes of which I've never seen: technically and artisically brilliant, and alone worth the price of admission.

4.5 / 5


Feb 21, 2004



A film for the MTV generation. In other words, a film that relies on gimmicks. Gimmicks like style, shock, and violence. Which I guess amounts to what MTV considers as "hip." I'm sick of all this Shyamalan-inspired pull-it-altogether style endings where everything before the ending is incoherent filler. Make it coherent and have it leading you in one direction and BAM - plot twist and everything you thought you now realize was way wrong...that's the RIGHT way to make these kinds of movies. Pure crap and cheese, but giving it a generous 2/5 for good cinematography. The aforementioned gimmicks are TOOLS, not the loving building blocks of a film.

AFK fucked around with this message at 04:30 on Sep 13, 2004

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