Oldboy (2003) – Chan-wook Park

The intense South Korean thriller, Oldboy is the next movie recommendation from DK Canada’s highly enjoyable The Movie Book. Brutal, intense, and wow that reveal, this one floored me when I first saw it back in 2003, so I was eager to settle in and watch it again to see if it still had the same impact.

It does.

The film follows Dae-su Oh (Min-sik Choi), a man who was captured and imprisoned for fifteen years with no explanation, or clue as to who or why he’s been trapped. Then, upon his release, he is given five days to learn the identity of the person who wanted him locked up for over a decade.

Joining him on his quest, is a young sushi chef, Mi-do (Hye-jeong Kang). Together the pair delve into the mystery of Dae-su’s life in the hopes of leads, answers, realizations. But none of it is going to play out the way Dae-su thinks.

Violent, brutal, jaw-dropping the story takes you places you aren’t willing to go. In fact, I remember when I watched it when it first came out, and the reveal was unfurling on the screen in front of me and my brain couldn’t deal with where the story was going, it was so outside of the realm of possibility for me that it blew my mind.


The character arc for Dae-su is so well-crafted, the horror, the vengeance, the anger, the confusion, all of it is set up brilliantly as he is sequestered away, controlled, changed, trapped. You feel for him every step of the way, and you want him to exact his revenge on those who locked him up.

But what if those who locked him up had their own justified reason?

All the characters’ backstories are troubling, unnerving, and are definitely supposed to make the viewer uncomfortable, add to that the graphic violence that aids in the storytelling and you’ve got a film that is exemplary, but not one you necessarily want to share with others, or have on a family night.

Watching the emotions play across Choi’s face, you feel the anguish, pain, and anger that is very much the driving essence of who he becomes, and what drives him to discover the truth.

Tightly edited, the story doesn’t let up, and there isn’t a singular wasted beat in the film, everything is there for a reason, and you can only hold on for the ride, because you are not ready for where the story is going to take you.

Park’s Vengeance Trilogy is a tough and brutal watch, but they are all exemplary films, and their subject matter is supposed to make you uncomfortable, and leave you unsure of how to feel by film’s end

Sounds like your thing? Watch it tonight, or pick up a copy of DK Books’ The Movie Book, and find a new to you classic to watch tonight!





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