"Even though I am no more than a monster, don't I, too, have the right to live?"

Korean film based on the Japanese manga Oldboy by Tsuchiya Garon. Released in 2003.

Winner of Best Actor, Best Director, Best Film Editing, and Best Music awards at Korea's 2004 Grand Bell Awards (Korea's equivalent to the Oscars).

Winner of Grand Prix at 2004 Cannes Film Festival.

Winner of Best Foreign Film award at 2004 British Independent Film Awards.

Directed by Park Chan-wook

Writing credits



Oldboy is one of those films that prove difficult to review. Not because it wasn't entertaining (it very much was). Nor was the storyline and character development lacking (storyline was very engaging, character development was strong).

No, it's difficult to review solely because of the fact that any little bit that's revealed about the movie kind of spoils the fun of it.

What little you need to know about the film's plot is that the character of Oh Dae-Su, a rude bastard who spends his nights drinking while his wife and daughter wait for him at home, is kidnapped and locked up somewhere for 15 years with nothing more than a television to keep him entertained (which also reveals to him on the news that his wife has been murdered). Upon completion of said incarceration, he is released, given money and a cell phone, and is left to his own devices to determine who did it and why. The resulting game that plays out wreaks havoc to Oh Dae-Su's sanity, which has already been completely battered as a result of having been cut off from the outside world for so many years.

The movie has cemented my adoration of Park Chan-wook and his output to date. From Joint Security Area, to Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, through to Oldboy, he never ceases to amaze me with his films - simply because after viewing each film, I can't stop thinking about them.

Case in point - I watched Oldboy about a month ago and still find myself thinking about all the intricate twists and turns that befall the protagonist of Oh Dae-Su. I lent the movie to a co-worker of mine who watched it with his girlfriend one weekend - he, too, couldn't stop thinking about the movie afterwards. My father also watched it with my mother - again, the same result.

I'm beginning to sound like a raving idiot but I'm being completely serious here. I really felt that viewing Oldboy was quite an experience, resulting in this movie landing firmly in any list of my all-time favourite films. However, you should be fairly warned - the movie was very disturbing. If news about an American remake of the film really do bear fruit, I can only imagine how watered down it will turn out to be.

I conclude this half-assed review of Oldboy by telling you that my mother now thinks that I'm a fucking nutter for lending my dad the movie. With praise like that, you can't go wrong with this film.

Owlman's Rating: 10/10 (plus a big thumbs down from my mom)


Three official DVD releases of Oldboy have been released. They include the following:

  • A lovely 2-disc set with each disc (disc 1 is the movie, disc 2 is the extras) in a slim slipcase.
  • A very lovely (and, apparently, out of print) 3-disc box set that includes the soundtrack CD and a 50-page book on the movie. All presented in a handmade copper box (just like the one in the movie that plays a very significant part of the story).
  • A 2-disc set billed as "Final Edition" which contains deleted scenes on the second disc.

All of the above are published by Starmax.

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