• James Rutherford

'Oldboy': A Ferocious, Tour de Force South Korean Revenge Thriller


Movie poster for the South Korean film Oldboy starring Choi Min-sik

"Oldboy" ("Oldeuboi") is a ferocious and indelible South Korean thriller from 2003 starring Choi Min-sik as Oh Dae-su, a businessman who is imprisoned inexplicably for 15 years. Abruptly released by his undisclosed captor, Dae-su launches upon a vehement campaign of retribution in search of his jailer as well as his long-lost daughter.


Held in a sealed hotel room for a decade and a half, Dae-su learns from the television that his wife has been brutally murdered and that he has been named by the police as the prime suspect. Relentlessly practicing shadow boxing while plotting his revenge, Dae-su is suddenly awakened one day on a building rooftop free from incarceration—only to be surreptitiously bedeviled by his shadowy antagonist who continues to taunt him by phone. Brought under the care of a winsome young woman named Mi-do (Hye-jeong Kang), Dae-su painstaking pieces together clues to his tormentor's identity as well as his daughter's whereabouts, a tortuous crusade of brutality and startling revelation.


Co-written and directed by South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-Wook ("Stoker", "The Handmaiden") and based on the Japanese manga by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi, "Oldboy" is stunning and wholly combative thriller, anchored impressively by a profound sense of gravitas and emotional austerity. Highlighted by several now-legendary scenes, including an utterly jaw-dropping fight sequence involving dozens of adversaries and a single hammer, it's a delirious and supremely provocative blast of hedonistic escapism—an absolute tour de force not to be overlooked.

 

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