Release Date
May 15, 2004
Chan-Wook Park
Jo-yoon Hwang
Joon-hyeong Im
Chan-Wook Park
Based On Manga Series By
Garon Tsuchiya
Nobuaki Minegishi
Distributed By
Tartan Films
$3 million
Action, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Rated R for strong violence including scenes of torture, sexuality and pervasive language
120 minutes


One of the most powerful foreign films I’ve ever encountered, “Oldboy” is an epic story without the unneeded glitz and glamour of a Hollywood blockbuster. Park Chan-Wook tests the viewers’ endurance, putting his main character, Dae-Su, through challenges, all while touching on thick and heavy emotions that translate perfectly to the spectator.

The epic feeling is achieved through masterful character development, as Dae-Su is unrecognizable from his first scene compared to his last. Chan-Wook is also excellent at messing with perspective and people’s assumptions, which is apparent in several of his other films as well, in which he shows an image to which you take away your initial understanding. Then we revisits the same scene later and either shows you an element you did not see before that changes the meaning of the event, or gives you enough details to skew your perception.

The crowning achievement of “Oldboy” is the ability to mask all of the secret twists and turns that you encounter throughout the film. It takes a gifted director to weave intricate secrets into a film without spoiling them or telegraphing them. “Oldboy” is simply a masterful film in general, foreign or domestic. It’s a shame that anyone sees this film and feels the need to remake it.


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