The Good

A very interesting film that never lets the viewer off the hook.

The Bad

A bit too darkly composed for my "bright" cinematic tastes.

Oldboy is a Kafkaesque tale of redemption and revenge by Chan Wook Park. Placed in a room for 15 years (groomed and taken care of all the way), a man is released into the world and given a wallet full of money and a phone. While he was inside his wife has been murdered. He is then informed that he has 5 days to solve why this has all happened to him. If can, then the man who imprisoned him will kill himself. If he can't, he will suffer an even greater loss.

I remember when this film was released. Not knowing anything about it and with other movies to see, I let Oldboy pass me by. Now, I don't know if this film is meant for the audience who has PSP's, simply because the subject matter doesn't seem like something "gamers" would generally be into. However, Oldboy is a very well told tale about a man coming to terms with his own life and his reasons for living.


Deleted Scenes

There are two Deleted Scenes on this disc. They are an extended fight scene and a tender moment between two of the main characters. I don't think these really add anything that special to the film, mainly because of how intricately woven the movie itself is. I think visually the extended fight scene looks really good, but I'll take a tightly cut film with less action over a sprawling narrative with elongated action scenes any day.


Widescreen. Oldboy has a very interesting look. The color scheme seems part Danny Boyle and part David Fincher. This movie is so dark that at times while I was watching it, I wondered if they were rationing light when they shot it? Still, the style of the movie is freewheeling and while it is heavily stylized, things like the fight scenes don't look planned. I was also impressed with the amount of darkness this film is bathed in. Amazingly, the compression never got pixilated or adversely effected.


Stereo. As this movie's original language is Korean I spent so much of the film reading the screen that I didn't really focus on the audio. This isn't to say that there wasn't any sound design with this movie. With a film as moody and cerebral as Oldboy, they have to use audio to get inside the character's heads. Sadly, I was too preoccupied to really speak about it here.


I love the the cover art image. Our main character walks down a darkly lit street with bright signs blaring behind him. The main sign in the foreground says Oldboy and this works so well in the general scheme of this cover. The back features some shots from the movie, a nice but brief description of the film, an "Extra Features" listing and some technical specs about this disc. An understated bit of packaging for a very understated film.

Final Word

I wonder if a movie like this could get made in the US? While I am sure that it could get made the bigger question is would anybody see it? While critics and everyone else hailed the achievement of Memento, at the end of the day that movie really wasn't difficult. Also, viewers had a lot of information going into the film so that they knew what to expect. Oldboy takes viewers expectations and isn't afraid to raise the stakes so that it might confuse them. There are many different things happening with all the characters that we never know the true intentions of anyone.

Oldboy is the kind of movie that creeps up on you. It makes an impression and stays in your head long after the movie has ended. In some ways we become like the characters we have been following.

Oldboy was released November 21, 2003.