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Oldboy (2003) – English Review


Even though I’m no more than a monster – don’t I, too, have the right to live?

A man is kidnapped and locked in a room for 15 years. Suddenly one day he wakes up in a suitcase and he’s a free man. Now he’s trying to find out why he was kidnapped. And he meets a young woman he falls in love with shortly after his release from captivity.

Oldboy is Park Chan-wook’s second movie in his revenge trilogy. Many people mean that Oldboy is the best movie in his revenge trilogy. I mean, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is the best movie in his revenge trilogy.

The soundtrack in Oldboy is one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard. The music blends in with the scenes, and I always get goosebumps when I see and hear how Park Chan-wook combines the images and the score in this movie.

Choi Min-shik who plays the protagonist shows again what an outstanding actor he is. In Oldboy, he’s allowed to play on his entire emotional register. We see him transform from being an arrogant asshole to a desperate and vengeful man, to a total breakdown. Choi Min-shik has always been one of South Korea’s best actors.

The way Park Chan-wook has shot the fight scene in the long corridor is fantastic. The fight is raw and brutal, with a small dose of humor. The protagonist is a stubborn man and has a will you must admire. He’s not the first person to lie down in a fight! Even a knife in the back doesn’t bother him!

If you are afraid of going to the dentist, don’t see what the protagonist can do with a hammer! This scene is intense, and to put it mildly, just too damn good.

Oldboy has a disgusting scene when the protagonist eats a live octopus. He just starts eating it! Suddenly he faints. He then lies on the table with a half-eaten octopus that’s still wriggling in his mouth. What a disgusting scene! And the best thing about the scene is that Choi Min-shik ate this live octopus in reality! What a sick man!

The villain in the movie is also fantastic. Lee Woo-jin seems nice, but that’s just on the outside. The way he gets the protagonist to do things without talking is brilliant. The scene where the protagonist loses his mind and Lee Woo-jin just stands there watching him is brilliant. This is quality!

But here comes also the weakness of the movie, and that’s the scene where the protagonist pretends he’s a dog. I’ve seen the movie four times, and this scene always makes me embarrassed. Park Chan-wook should have done something else, because this scene always takes me out of the climax. It’s too silly.

Eventually, the pieces fall into place, and we get an ending that’s brilliant. You will be as shocked as the protagonist, I can promise you that! I don’t want to say too much, so just trust me! You can say that the ending is open for interpretations, but it doesn’t really look that bright for a certain character. I think my interpretation is correct, so I just leave it at that.

And here we also get to see my favorite scene when the protagonist stares into the camera and smiles. But then his facial expression changes, and Choi Min-shik shows how good he is as an actor. What a fantastic closing scene! What a wonderful facial expression!

My favorite movie in this revenge trilogy is Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. That movie never gets boring. It’s edited in a way that I love, and it doesn’t have what I would call long scenes that kills the pace. Oldboy has some scenes that get a little long and that kills the pace. There aren’t many scenes, but I could feel it in the course of two hours, something I never experience when watching Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance.

Rating: 9/10

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