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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A subtle masterpiece.
Let's get the details out of the way, before I sing my praises. Oh Dae-Su finds himself kidnapped and imprisoned in a hotel-esque room for 15 years. He teaches himself to fight (by beating the hell out of a brick wall!), and slowly begins to go crazy. He's then hypnotized, and wakes up on the roof of a building. He has a limited amount of time to find the people who...
Published on 1 Mar 2006 by L. Dolan

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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A very bad hair day
Stylistically this film is very impressive but narratively it fails to convince. Initially it's possible to believe the urge for revenge felt by Dae-Su but as the movie progresses it becomes increasingly difficult to accept his behaviour or, for that matter, the behaviour of any of the movie's characters. By the end of the film, when the devastating revelation is...
Published on 27 July 2008 by sft


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shocking, gripping, twisting, turning work of genius, 17 Feb 2005
This review is from: Oldboy [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
This film is a masterpiece. The viewer is wrenched from the seat and immersed in the beautiful, but agonisingly painful world of the hero as he seeks reason for the robbery of his life.
Constantly suprising, it is a funny, intelligent consideration of revenge, guilt and love. The acting, direction, technique, cinematography, and score are all masterful.
True, the implied violence is not for the faint of heart, but it neither dominates nor detracts, rather lending an unbelievable power to the ultimate denoument. That is despite having the greatest (and truest) fight scene ever filmed in a corridor.
If you want drama, passion and redemption, you have to see this film. Buy it, love it, then make your friends watch it as well.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great fast-paced mystery, 6 Jun 2006
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This review is from: Oldboy [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Compelling from the outset this is a must-see, not just for fans of Korean cinema but for anyone who enjoys a good mystery.

Oh Dae-Su has been imprisoned for 15 years without knowing why or even who his jailer is. On his release he is given just a few days to find out and you want to know just as much.

With several gruesome scenes that literally left me hiding behind my hands it's fair to say that this is not for those with a weak stomach although there are also some good comic moments.

This is a riveting watch which has you gripped right from the start, keeps your interest all the way through and doesn't disappoint at the end.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tired of the Hollywood 'vengeance' scenario? Look no further, 27 July 2005
This review is from: Oldboy [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
As a rule, don't mistake this film for one of two things:
1) A film in the Tarantino vein.
Just because mention of it's name is often preceded by the phrase 'Tarantino recommended' don't mistake it for his brand of swaggering cool (so cool it often can't stand up straight, in fact), stolen from multiple sources, with little other than superficial flash over substance and one-liners that are sure to be repeated for ten years afterwards - even if they weren't very interesting when you first heard them.
Sadistic violence isn't thrown at the characters to mitigate their also violent responses. Here for every act there is a reason. Often one thought out years in advance.
If this film stands up to the likeness of any American director I'd make it David Fincher - particularly as the neon flourished, smack patina of this film has more in common with that of Fight Club - and it shares not only some of Fincher's intelligent nihilism but also his ability to render a scene disturbing more by what is not shown/implied than what is.
2. A typical 'Asia Extreme' title.
For something as purportedly violent as this there are very few on-screen scenes of violence that could be considered gratuitous or nasty for nasty's sake - and I make that judgement relative to generally any mainstream Hollywood action movie out there. Any violence depicted is thus telling you either about the characters or the characters' state of mind. This is no Ringu or Ju-On or some such ghost/horror/paranormal cautionary. This time you'll be spared the narrative giving you yet another reason to reconsider your view on cute Japanese schoolgirls.
For a start, it's not Japanese, it's South Korean. Second, it's a tale about vengeance that doesn't stimp on the consequences of vegeance for both the revenger and the revengee - which becomes typically complicated when the parties are both. There are no gangsters, no especial depiction of a criminal underworld, and no crazed psychos weilding either chainsaws or katanas to theatrical effect. All of which I am thankful for, as to me, they are as cliched and overused as hell.
What you do get is a simple question to ponder as the film opens. One man, a pretty much everyman, and in some ways an ass of a everyman, is inexplicably kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years. He is then released and given 5 days to find the perpetrator and the reason for his imprisonment.
Now if this were a Hollywood movie I would indeed be looking in the opposite direction because you know what you'd get before you even started. The typical American spade-jawed type in a white vest with a gun and trunkful of ammo - although the updated version can just as well be a heroine wearing Bruce Lee's tracksuit (just because) and weilding a samauri sword - on a justified you note (because it's always justified if the hero is American and 'done-wrong-by' in Hollywood) trail of rocking and rolling (see the soundtrack) rampage of revenge. Need you ask how it ends?
Not here.
Which other film will have the central character ponder what he will do when he's had his vengeance - knowing full well his desire for revenge will not be extinguished?
This has several things that scream not Hollywood. Particularly the fact that the 'hero' is never fully in control of events and the outcome can't be assumed or assured.
There are no glib one-liners, no coincidences thrown in for effect, no obeisances to the high god of 'cool' and 'badass' (although, you can enjoy some scenes as such if you so wish - in particular some well choreographed fight scenes). Everything comes back to plot but not in an easy or comfortable manner by any means. Indeed the final denoument sheds everything that has gone before in an entirely new light, and changes it irrevocably.
With respect to the two-disc format of this film, I personally thought I'd died and gone to heaven. There are plenty of extras, even a director's commentary and interviews with the cast, giving it a well rounded and thought out feel that is truly appreciated in such a worthy title, nevermind a foreign title. Any questions I might have had about the film were pretty much answered by the time I'd watched all the additional material. My personal favourite extra was the score commentary, especially as the central waltz theme is so beautiful.
In other words, if you're not a fan of gratuitously violent films and are turned off by the theme of vengeance being espoused here, DON'T walk away. WATCH THIS FILM. You're bound to be in some way surprised.
If you're looking for Kill Bill Mach III, avoid - you'll be disappointed.
On this film you'll actually have to use your brain, and not your appreciation of swordplay or arterial spray. And if you like David Fincher, definitely give it a go. This film is funny, disturbing, thought provoking and heart-breaking all at once. And I, for one, write this as someone who generally can't tolerate the depiction of on-screen violence to make a character look or sound 'cool'; this film relieved me on that point, not only with the well-rounded characterisation but the well-considered plot. Even the director stated that he inserted one humourous visual specifically because the central character was trying to look too cool.
A+ in my opinion.
Long Live Oldboy, Kill Bill is dead.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars please watch this film., 10 Mar 2006
By 
K. Jones "karl_lanc" (Wales) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Oldboy [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
I watched this movie on the off chance that it just caught my eye in the DVD shop. It totally blew me away and has since received the attention it deserves (Jonathan Ross payed it alot of praise during his Asian tour of cinema for BBC4.)
The movie includes a great cast which both suit and emphasise the gritty stoyline involved.....and what a storyline. Without giving too much away I would say that this movie is totally original in its process of allowing the viewer a glimpse of what is going on.
I urge anyone who is a fan of original, thought provoking and innovative movies to rent or buy this movie.
I have recently picked up a few more Korean titles on the basis of this great movie and have found many more equally as complex, enjoyable and brilliantly directed titles.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And now for something completely different, 4 Jun 2006
By 
john Paul Power (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Oldboy [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
A fantastic film which follows none of the usual hollywood conventions. One of the few films which is totally ahead of the crowd. A star performance from Choi Min-Sik in a physical and emotionally demanding role. Please watch the original before the hollywood remake is made. Even if it turns out to be that rare breed; a good hollywood remake of a foreign film, it will never match the Korean original.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Acclaimed Oldboy, 23 Nov 2004
This review is from: Oldboy [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
This in my opinion is easily the best film ever to be created. If you like to get dazed by the twists and turns of the plot, then this is the film for you.
This film is a basically a build up towards the later upcoming biggest twist ever to be put up on cinema screen. (the 'box' bit) To be honest, i couldnt quite understand the film until this part...It had answered all my questions i had during the film.
Dont buy this film if you just expect mindless gore. The violence in this film is actually appropiate and essential to the character building. (its not as gory as people say anyway)
Oldboy is simply an artwork... i never seen a film so orignal and cool. No wonder the world labelled it as one of the best films made ever.
I recommend that you watch it first time with all of your concentration. There may be few things that you didnt quite understand... but watch it again, and then its all solved and you will get to appreciate the effort and intelligence spent on the making of the film.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A cinematic masterpiece, 21 Mar 2005
By 
David Stewart Mckee "nights_dawn" (Glasgow, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Oldboy [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
I had heard about this film from a friend of a friend and have to say it was one of the greatest films I have ever seen. Be warnes, this film deserves it's 18 rating but it is so beautifully shot that the violence is never gratuitous or excessive. There is a good bit of blood but never on the OTT Kill Bill vein but it is disturbing at times. The story focuses on a man's search for the truth to why he was kidnapped for 15 years without explanation. The main character, Oh Daesu, teams up with a young woman intrigued by his story and eager to help him. But nothing is what it seems in this film and the truth behind the kidnapping is more disturbing and twisted. As with a lot of asian cinema it defies western conventions and the director clearly has an eye for imagery, the film almost takes on a manga style of image after image. There is a beautifully shot fight scene in a corridor that is done side on and in one long, continous shot that is one of the best scenes in the whole movie and in fact in cinema. No film is perfect and some things don't quite ring true, the kidnapper seems awfully young for the role and it is hard to accept the reason why he arranged the kidnapping. His revenge however is disturbing and not for the faint-hearted. With conservative censorship reagning supreme in Hollywood at the moment there is no doubt that an American version of this film would water down the story, as they did with the Ring, so why not stick with the original when it is such an amazing work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece....why yes, 9 Aug 2005
By 
This review is from: Oldboy [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Oldboy is strange, violent, moving and directed as if by god himself. From the very start our hero gets locked away for 15years and then is released into the world seeking vengance. This whole process is filmed with beautiful music and skilled camera work. When out he slowly but surley follows clues to reveal why he was locked up. The movie here is done at a watchable pace with exotic colours, a long fight scence ( done in one take ), humouress dialouge and of course the excitment for answers to the questions. In the end the images and sounds of the movie will stick in your head and the ending will leave you shocked. Support foreign films, support Oldboy with a purchase.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, 12 Aug 2006
This review is from: Oldboy [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
This is a brilliant film. It is definately one of my favourites and there are very few (if any)bad points I can point out. It looks (and sounds) absoloutely beautiful, due to some of the best direction and cinematogrophy that has ever passed my eyes. There are so many memorable scenes, and even more memorable shots- never have I seen a film with more poster oppurtunities! There is a single shot, corridor fight scene which is just breathtaking.

Alot of people have complained about the film having too much style and no substance. Nonsense! This couldn't be further from the truth, and it has one of the best twists I have ever witnessed.

This is quite a violent film which will put some people off, but really I don't think it should. It is such a beautiful film and the violence is never gratuitous. Much it is implied and it has far less violence than mainstream films like Kill Bill, which is far less controversial. The only thng I would say is that it certainly has more of a gritty realism.

If you have seen any of Park's other films, I do not think you will dissapointed. I really cannot recommend this film enough. Watch it!!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best korean film I've seen, 20 Feb 2007
By 
W. Chau "Chemistry Undergrad" (Reading, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Oldboy [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
Oldboy really sticks out to me. The way it's shot, the FANTASTIC musical score and the faultless acting. Brilliant.

Sounds like I'm hyping it up? Maybe I am, but in my opinion it really is that good. If I had to compare it with a western film then I'd pick Fight Club. It really has you thinking all the way through: what's going on? Who is this character? Why has this happened? This isn't a bad thing though, it's handled in the way that Fight Club was filmed so that after each revelation you think, "Ohhh, so that's why." This in itself is great as the film feels like a real mystery at first but by the end it wraps itself up neatly.

In terms of action there isn't as much as I was expecting, but Old Boy is more of a psychological thriller than an action romp. The action that's included is well choreographed and has a gritty feel to it. No wireworks or 3D special effects here.

In conclusion, if you haven't experienced world cinema before then Old Boy is a great place to start. If you have then I'd still recommend Old Boy regardless, it makes a great addition to any film buff's collection.
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Oldboy [Blu-ray] [2003]
Oldboy [Blu-ray] [2003] by Chan-Wook Park (Blu-ray - 2007)
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