Oldeuboi (2003) Review

Verdict: Traumatic

Twisted story but with great acting and prop use.


Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) is kidnapped one rainy night without a trace and without any indication as to why or who took him. In his room where he is confined, he has nothing but the TV to connect him to the outside world. A few years in, he sees on TV that his wife has been murdered and that they suspect he is to blame. After a torturous 15 years, he is let free on a rooftop without any warning. He meets Mi-do (Kang Hye-jeong) at a restaurant where she is head chef, and she somehow ends up taking care of him and joining in on the search to find his captive. However, finding out the identity of his captor is no issue, as Woo-jin (Yu Ji-tae) is not hiding. Rather, he is playing a game intended to make Dae-su suffer much pain. Directed by Park Chan-wook.

*Warning to all who may in the future be watching this movie. This is not your average movie as it has a very twisted storyline and many traumatic scenes that are extremely violent, gruesome and explicit.

The trailer is no indication of what you will sit through as the film plays. I was at the same time both deeply disturbed and a little intrigued to see how it would end. Safe to say, I was not at all prepared to spend my Friday night like that. I can’t say much without giving away the surprising elements of the film, but if you are considering watching the film, just bear in mind that you will probably be traumatised.

I think the reason why I reacted so strongly (and negatively) to this film, is because I have been brought up in a society which considers these topics taboo and cannot even think to imagine if this were to happen to me. So in a way, the film questions the conventions of society and challenges us by putting us outside our comfort zone (way outside).

The acting is great as the actors/actresses fully embodied their characters. The interactions between Min-sik, Ji-tae and Hye-jeong went smoothly and is realistic to watch. Min-sik does his character justice as a tortured man with almost nothing left to lose. Ji-tae while still having the looks of an innocent young man delivers the emotions of a sadistic and somewhat mentally unstable character creatively. Hye-jeong too, plays her role as the innocent and oblivious damsel well. However, it seems like a waste to have her introduced as a strong independent woman at the beginning and then turn her into a shallow headed female who is basically useless. Going off that, this film is so obviously male centred, and females are only used for their bodies. I’m sure you’ll know by now what I think of that. (I’m just going to post a link to a TEDx talk about gender equality)

The use of props though used mostly for violent acts, are very impactful. A hammer becomes part of Min-sik’s signature, replaced teeth turns into a clue, photographs are used to reveal past events and gift boxes no longer connote something positive. The director and writers (based on comic) are quite ingenious in this way, and everything is displayed in a way that ties to the end. Still, I will not be watching this again or the Hollywood remake for that matter.

To sum-up:
PROS: Acting, props
CONS: Storyline, violence, explicitness 

I give this an 8/10 (it is still a well made film).

Have you seen Oldboy? Rate it out of 5 stars above or leave a comment below!


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