Oldboy

  • Studio: Tartan
  • Release Date: Mar 25, 2005
User Score
8.7

Universal acclaim- based on 420 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 19 out of 420

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User Reviews

  1. Jon-Jon
    Oct 2, 2008
    6
    The film kicks off brilliantly and at times is genuinely absorbing but, unfortunately, it fails tie up the story convincingly enough to make it a must see. The histrionics at the film's climax and the cringingly puerile motives at the story's core, spoil an otherwise enjoyable and stylish film.
  2. jason
    Mar 29, 2005
    4
    It was billed as an action movie. it started out as an action movie. it lied. for 2 hours and ten minutes it lied to the audience who sat on their seats waiting to see some amazing fight choreography like that of kill bill or any other sonny chiba movie. however it was far from these. and i'd like to say to all the people that gave this movie a 10 that pushing the boundaries of It was billed as an action movie. it started out as an action movie. it lied. for 2 hours and ten minutes it lied to the audience who sat on their seats waiting to see some amazing fight choreography like that of kill bill or any other sonny chiba movie. however it was far from these. and i'd like to say to all the people that gave this movie a 10 that pushing the boundaries of society's tastes and what they consider to be "off color" or disgusting does not create art. yes the cinematography is wonderful in this movie, but the story and plot have too many unfounded and limp moments that the joy of seeing this movie is totally ripped away. don't waste $10 or 2 hours of your time going to see this movie. i wish i hadn't. Expand
  3. Jan
    Jan 8, 2007
    6
    Very slick but ultimately too sadistic and hollow to fill out its overlong runtime with meaning. Oh, and killing four live octopi (it wasn't just one) can never be justified in making a film.
  4. StuartW.
    Mar 27, 2005
    5
    I am really into Miike, Takeshi and the recent craze for asian cinema and the hype surrounding this film got me very excited. Man, was I disappointed. This is one empty, incoherent mess of a movie. Firstly, for a revenge thriller, there are only a couple of fight scenes, and the clash between eastern stylisation and an attempt to be realistic and gritty creates one of the limpest fights I am really into Miike, Takeshi and the recent craze for asian cinema and the hype surrounding this film got me very excited. Man, was I disappointed. This is one empty, incoherent mess of a movie. Firstly, for a revenge thriller, there are only a couple of fight scenes, and the clash between eastern stylisation and an attempt to be realistic and gritty creates one of the limpest fights scenes I've yet witness. The use of an Ozu style rigid camera removes any excitement from this sequence, and when compared to the early part of the film, which shamelessly rips off Fincher, it's extremely disappointing. Still the concept and first half hour are very well thought out and entertaining. The film then veers into several illogical and dull avenues in order to setup it's genuinely harrowing twist. Unfortunately the impact of the twist is lessened greatly by the improbability of the situation and the shallowness of the story. It even tries to shock with a couple of Miike-lite stunts, which don't work at all. There is none of the moving symbolism of Battle Royale or the uncanny terror of Audition. Overall, a disappointment. Expand
  5. drsuess
    Apr 30, 2005
    6
    Mediocre.
  6. JayW.
    Apr 1, 2005
    6
    Although the story turns out to be disarmingly simple, this intelligent psych thriller is encumbered with an excess of improbable - even childish - mega-violence. The "R" rating is excessively generous.
  7. jimb.
    Apr 28, 2005
    6
    I was completely underwhelmed by the violence, sin city and kill bill are way more over the top than this film. And neither of those films touch Ichi the Killer gore wise. So it was pretty dissapointing on that level. Other than that, it was a pretty good art film, I had to really concentrate to follow everything, but the style and story was intruiging enough that I wanted to. Up until I was completely underwhelmed by the violence, sin city and kill bill are way more over the top than this film. And neither of those films touch Ichi the Killer gore wise. So it was pretty dissapointing on that level. Other than that, it was a pretty good art film, I had to really concentrate to follow everything, but the style and story was intruiging enough that I wanted to. Up until the collosally trivial ending. The more I think about it, it's harder to enjoy the rest of the film, when all the weirdness and revenge boils down is finally revealed. I kept waiting after the big secret, because I thought something else was going to come out and shock me. Maybe it's a cultural thing. It's bad if it happened in real life, but it just doesn't fit the tone of the rest of the film really, and seems pretty trite in context. So maybe watch the first hour and 120 minutes and walk out so you can imagine an ending that's bound to be a thousand times more interesting that what really happens. Expand
  8. BrutusO.
    Apr 4, 2005
    6
    Over-rated. Basically for those that think Quentin Tarantino's b-grade aesthetic is some kind of advance in movie making. Lots of post-modernist style at the expense of character development, lots of portentous invocation of taboo subjects (most notably incest and obsessive revenge), lots of over the top emoting about existential crisis - and lots of gratuitous violence masquerading Over-rated. Basically for those that think Quentin Tarantino's b-grade aesthetic is some kind of advance in movie making. Lots of post-modernist style at the expense of character development, lots of portentous invocation of taboo subjects (most notably incest and obsessive revenge), lots of over the top emoting about existential crisis - and lots of gratuitous violence masquerading as action. But little of real substance. Interesting and amusing in places, but lamentably shrill and inept in others. A dead end in film-making. Watch a Renoir or a Kurosawa film instead. You will feel better for it. Expand
  9. Sep 12, 2016
    6
    Oldboy is often cited as a masterpiece direct from South Korea. For me, it simply was not my thing. The violence was not too much for me, as is often the case. Though excessive in spots, Oldboy simply falls out of my range of enjoyment. As it stands, it is an entertaining ride with a disappointing conclusion that really lets the air of Park-Chan Wook's claustrophobic thriller.

    Shot in a
    Oldboy is often cited as a masterpiece direct from South Korea. For me, it simply was not my thing. The violence was not too much for me, as is often the case. Though excessive in spots, Oldboy simply falls out of my range of enjoyment. As it stands, it is an entertaining ride with a disappointing conclusion that really lets the air of Park-Chan Wook's claustrophobic thriller.

    Shot in a way that makes the viewer feel entriely claustrophobic alongside Oh Dae-Su (Choi Min-Sik), the film really does a great job capturing his anguish, loneliness, and torment, as he is locked up for 15 years for reasons unknown to him. The film's thrills continue as he meets the far too trusting Mi-do (Kang Hye-jung) and the mysterious Lee Woo-jin (Yoo Ji-tae), who is the reason he is locked up in the first place.

    The fim's willingness to dive into shocking violence is a problem, namely the tongue sequence. It makes sense, but no thank you. Other than that, the acting is well shot and well choreographed, especially when Oh Dae-su fights the men in the compound. A masterfully shot sequence, it almost made me a believer. That scene in particular is not just well shot, but Chan-wook Park does a terrific job creating tension and thrills in that scene, as well as the rest of the way.

    This is about where the noticeable positives stop for me, personally. My list of complaints is admittedly longer. Firstly, the beginning. Maybe I am dumb, but I barely realized it was the same guy at the beginning. I got what they were trying to do, but the beginning sequence of Oh Dae-su being very drunk and then winding up in this prison for 15 years was horrifically executed. It was incoherent and made no sense while watching it. I obviously figured out that was what happened at some point, but the film made no attempt to make it a coherent transition. Instead, it showed a drunk guy and then a guy locked up asking why he is being held with very little connection.

    Additionally, the biggest complaint is the end. Oh Dae-su is held for 15 years because he saw Lee Joo-win have sex with his sister and then he told his friend who spread the news around the school. The sister killed herself as a result (oh wait, excuse me, she was dropped). That is why this happened. Even worse, Chan-wook Park then decided it would be fun if the film became absolute nonsense by having Oh Dae-su have sex with Mi-do who is his daughter. Brilliant twist really. How did he wind up doing this, you ask? Oh well Lee Joo-win, in his endless quest to get payback for his dead sister, had a woman hypnotize the two of them to put them in situations where they will fall in love. This is not a problem with coherence. I understood it. However, these explanations were less than satisfying. I was already torn on whether or not the overall tone and feel were up my alley, but the ending convinced me that Oldboy was simply not my thing. For me, the ending was not just unsatisfying, but outright dumb.

    I get that everyone else loves Oldboy. That is fine. I did not hate it. I just would be hard pressed to say I like it. That said, the overwhelming praise will lead to me watching this one again later on. Though, it may be a while since it took me a while to watch it once to begin with since I was convinced it would not be my thing. Now that I have watched it, it seems that my initial impressions were correct. Though I loved the way it was shot and the action in the film is terrific, the incoherent beginning and awful conclusion is a major buzzkill. Sorry.
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  10. Jul 3, 2014
    6
    Overall an exciting indie film. The directing was especially accomplished. I thought that one of the major plot "twists" was too predictable though, which detracted, I thought, from the overall quality of the film.
Metascore
74

Generally favorable reviews - based on 31 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 31
  2. Negative: 1 out of 31
  1. 60
    Oldboy has the fatal air of wanting so desperately to be a cult movie that it forgets to present itself as a coherent one.
  2. Reviewed by: Derek Elley
    80
    A wild, intensely cinematic ride into two men's burning desire to get even.
  3. Whatever its oversteps and excesses (I do think Park ran a little amok with the computer gimcrackery), Oldboy has the bulldozing nerve and full-blooded passion of a classic.