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Theatrical poster
Hangul 올드보이
RR Oldeuboi
Directed by Park Chan-wook
Produced by Lim Seng-yong
Written by Hwang Jo-yun
Park Chan-wook
Lim Chun-hyeong
Lim Joon-hyung
Garon Tsuchiya
Starring Choi Min-sik
Yu Ji-tae
Kang Hye-jeong
Music by Jo Yeong-wook
Cinematography Jeong Jeong-hoon
Distributed by Show East
Release date(s) South Korea:
November 21, 2003
United Kingdom:
October 15, 2004
United States:
March 25, 2005
Running time 122 minutes
Country South Korea
Language Korean
Admissions South Korea:
Preceded by Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance
Followed by Sympathy for Lady Vengeance

Oldboy (Hangul: 올드보이, the phonetic transliteration of "old boy") is a 2003 South Korean film directed by Park Chan-wook. It is loosely based on the Japanese manga of the same name written by Nobuaki Minegishi and Garon Tsuchiya. Oldboy is the second installment of The Vengeance Trilogy, preceded by Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and followed by Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. The film follows the story of one Oh Dae-Su, who is locked in a hotel room for 15 years without knowing his captor's motives. When he is finally released, Dae Su finds himself still trapped in a web of conspiracy and violence. His own quest for vengeance becomes tied in with romance when he falls for an attractive sushi chef.

The film won the Grand Prix at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival and high praise from the President of the Jury, director Quentin Tarantino. Critically, the movie has been well received in the United States, with an 81% "Certified Fresh" rating at[2] Film critic Roger Ebert has claimed Oldboy to be a "...powerful film not because of what it depicts, but because of the depths of the human heart which it strips bare".[3] In 2008, voters on CNN named it one of the ten best Asian films ever made.[4]



The film opens with a man holding another man over a building ledge by his tie. The man holding the other man is asked his name after he says that he wants to tell a story. The man is Oh Dae-su - a Korean businessman, husband and father.

The scene flashes back to an overweight and drunken Dae-su as he sits in a local police station while his friend, Joo-Hwan, bails him out. Dae-su calls his daughter on a public phone, as it is her birthday. Joo-Hwan takes the phone to also wish Yeun-Hee a happy birthday, and Oh Dae-su's wife takes the phone to ask for her husband's speedy return. Joo-Hwan turns to get him and realizes Oh Dae-su had disappeared.

Days later, Dae-su awakens confined in a shabby hotel room, with no explanation of where he is or why he is there. He is not allowed visitors, nor phone calls, and is fed only fried dumplings through a narrow slot. Experiencing hysteria and hallucinations during his captivity, he frequently attempts suicide but is often gassed into unconsciousness. Dae-su, resigned to his fate, keeps himself occupied with shadowboxing and recording his captivity with tattoos, using a television as his calendar. He trains for fighting by punching an outline of a man painted on the wall. While watching television, Dae-su discovers that his wife has been murdered, his daughter sent to foster parents and that he himself is the prime murder suspect. Dae-su makes plans to escape, and begins to tunnel through the wall slowly, using a stolen chopstick. Close to the realization of his plan, Dae-su is set free on the rooftop of a building with a new suit and his prison diaries, fifteen years after his imprisonment began.

Upon his release, Dae-su meets the man attempting to commit suicide by jumping off the edge. Saving the man seconds before he falls, Dae-su tells him his story up to this point. As the man starts his own tale, Dae-su gives up interest and wanders off, mugging a woman for her sunglasses. As the woman attempts to get help from a policeman, the jumper falls onto a car in the building's courtyard, allowing Dae-su to escape.

While wandering the streets of the city, Dae-su meets Mi-do (Kang Hye-jeong), a sushi chef at a local restaurant, who takes pity on him when he passes out and brings him to her home. After receiving a phone call from the still unidentified former captor, Dae-su resolves to find him and locates the restaurant that provided the fried dumplings during his imprisonment, following the delivery boy to his former prison. Once inside, Dae-su ambushes the warden and tortures him for information. The info includes tape recordings of his captor, his only spoken motive being that "Oh Dae-su talks too much." Dae-su fights his way out of the prison past hordes of guards, suffering several serious wounds before escaping. After Dae-su collapses in the street, a stranger places him in a taxi, only to direct him to Mi-do's address and identify Dae-su by name, showing his face briefly, which Dae-su knows but can't place, before the taxi leaves.

The next day, the man, named Woo-jin (Yu Ji-tae) reveals himself as Dae-su's kidnapper and offers Dae-su the chance to play a game, where he must discover Woo-jin's motives behind Dae-su's kidnapping. Mi-do will die if he fails, but if he succeeds, Woo-jin will kill himself. Later, Dae-su discovers he and Woo-jin briefly attended the same high school. During the investigation, Dae-su and Mi-do grow closer together and become physically and emotionally intimate, culminating in them having sex. Chasing his memories, Dae-su remembers spying on Woo-jin's incestuous relationship with his sister, Soo-ah (Yun Jin-seo). Dae-su, unaware of their genetic relationship, inadvertently spreads the rumor before transferring to another school in Seoul. Eventually, the rumor grew to include a pregnancy, which may or may not have been real, leading to Soo-ah's death, assumed to have been a suicide.

Dae-su confronts Woo-jin with the information and accuses Woo-jin of killing his own sister to cover up the scandal. Woo-jin instead gives Dae-su a final gift, a photo album containing Dae-su's family portrait. As Dae-su flips through the album, he witnesses his daughter grow older in the pictures, until discovering that Mi-do is actually his daughter. Woo-jin reveals that Dae-su's kidnapping, incarceration, the murder of his wife and the upbringing of his daughter were all orchestrated to cause Dae-su and Mi-do to commit incest. It is also revealed that hypnosis and post-hypnotic suggestion were involved with Dae-Su's imprisonment, and had been performed on Mi-Do as well, and that the warden, thought to have betrayed Woo-Jin to Dae-su, was actually still under his payroll. Dae-su is left horrified at the fact that he and his daughter have become romantic lovers. Dae-su begs Woo-jin to conceal the secret from Mi-Do, groveling for forgiveness before slicing out his own tongue and offering it to Woo-jin as a symbol of his silence. Woo-jin agrees to spare Mi-do from the traumatic knowledge and leaves Dae-su in his penthouse with the words "My sister and I actually loved each other. Can you two do the same?". As Woo-jin rides alone in the elevator, he is struck by the vivid memory of his sister's death, a suicide in which he was complicit, and shoots himself in the head.

In the epilogue, Dae-su sits in a winter landscape, where he makes a deal with the same hypnotist who had hypnotized him while imprisoned, asking for her help to allow him to forget the secret. She reads his pleas from a handwritten letter and, touched by his words, begins the hypnosis process, lulling him into unconsciousness. Hours later, Dae-su wakes up, the hypnotist gone, and stumbles about before finally meeting with Mi-do. They embrace, and the soft spoken Mi-do tells Dae-su that she loves him. His broad smile slowly disappears into an odd expression, neither obviously happy nor unhappy (also alludes to the motif phrase "laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone" that is referenced several times throughout the movie).


The ending is deliberately ambiguous, and the audience is left with several questions: specifically, how much time has passed, if Dae-Su's meeting with the hypnotist really took place, and whether he successfully lost the knowledge of Mi-do's identity and whether he will continue his relationship with Mi-do. In an interview (included with the European release of the film) director Park Chan-Wook says that the ambiguous ending was intended to generate discussion; it is completely up to each individual viewer to interpret.


  • Choi Min-sik as Oh Dae-su: The film's protagonist, who has been imprisoned for somewhere around 15 years. Choi Min-sik lost and gained weight for his role depending on the filming schedule, trained for six weeks and did most of his stunt work.
  • Yu Ji-tae as Lee Woo-jin: The man behind Oh Dae-su's imprisonment. Park Chan-wook's ideal choice for Woo-jin had been actor Han Suk-kyu, who previously played a rival to Choi Min-sik in Shiri and No. 3. Choi then suggested Yu Ji-tae for the role, despite Park's reservation about his youthful age.[5]
  • Kang Hye-jeong as Mi-do: Dae-su's love interest and daughter.
  • Ji Dae-han as No Joo-hwan: Dae-su's friend and the owner of a cybercafe.
  • Kim Byeong-ok as Mr. Han: Bodyguard of Woo-jin.
  • Oh Tae-kyung as Young Dae-su.
  • Ahn Yeon-suk as Young Woo-jin.
  • Oo Il-han as Young Joo-hwan.
  • Yun Jin-seo as Lee Soo-ah: Woo-jin's sister.
  • Oh Dal-su as Park Cheol-woong: The private prison's manager.


The corridor fight scene took seventeen takes in three days to perfect, and was one continuous take – there was no editing of any sort except for the knife that was stabbed in Oh Dae-su's back, which was computer-generated imagery. Though the scene has often been compared visually to side scrolling beat 'em up video games, director Park Chan-wook has stated that the similarity was unintentional.

Other computer-generated imagery in the film includes the ant coming out of Oh Dae-su's arm (according to the making-of on the DVD the whole arm was computer-generated imagery) and the ants crawling over Oh Dae-su afterwards. The octopus being eaten alive was not computer-generated; four were used during the making of this scene. Actor Choi Min-sik, a Buddhist, said a prayer for each one. It should also be noted that the eating of live octopuses (called sannakji (산낙지) in Korean) as a delicacy is not unheard of in East Asia, although it is usually cut, not eaten whole. When asked if he felt sorry for the actor Choi Min-sik, director Park Chan-wook stated he felt more sorry for the octopus.

The final scene's snowy landscape was filmed in New Zealand.


Critical reception

Oldboy received generally positive reviews from Western critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 82% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 120 reviews.[6] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 74 out of 100, based on 31 reviews.[7]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four stars (out of four). Ebert remarked: "We are so accustomed to 'thrillers' that exist only as machines for creating diversion that it's a shock to find a movie in which the action, however violent, makes a statement and has a purpose."[3] James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film three stars (out of four), saying that it "isn't for everyone, but it offers a breath of fresh air to anyone gasping on the fumes of too many traditional Hollywood thrillers."[8]

Stephanie Zacharek of praised the film, calling it "anguished, beautiful, and desperately alive" and "a dazzling work of pop-culture artistry."[9] Sean Axmaker of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer gave Oldboy a score of "B-," calling it "a bloody and brutal revenge film immersed in madness and directed with operatic intensity," but felt that the questions raised by the film are "lost in the battering assault of lovingly crafted brutality."[10]

Manohla Dargis of the New York Times gave a lukewarm review, saying that "there is not much to think about here, outside of the choreographed mayhem."[11] J.R. Jones of the Chicago Reader was also not impressed, saying that "there's a lot less here than meets the eye."[12]

Box office performance

In South Korea, the film was seen by 3,132,000 moviegoers. (It ranks fifth place for the highest grossing film of 2003[13] and 41st in all-time national movie box-office records.)

It grossed a total of US$14,980,005 worldwide.[14]

Awards and nominations


Old Boy Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack by Jo Yeong-Wook
Released December 9, 2003 (South Korea)
Recorded 2003
Genre Soundtrack
Length 60:00
Label EMI Music Korea Ltd.

Nearly all the music cues composed by Jo Yeong-Wook are titled after movies, many of them film noirs.

  1. Look Who's Talking (Opening song)
  2. Somewhere in the Night
  3. The Count of Monte Cristo - A novel by Alexandre Dumas, adapted many times to film
  4. Jailhouse Rock
  5. In a Lonely Place
  6. It's Alive
  7. The Searchers
  8. Look Back in Anger
  9. Vivaldi - Four Seasons Concerto Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297, "L'inverno" (Winter)
  10. Room at the Top
  11. Cries and Whispers (Woo-Jin's theme)
  12. Out of Sight
  13. For Whom the Bell Tolls
  14. Out of the Past
  15. Breathless
  16. The Old Boy (Dae-Su's theme)
  17. Dressed to Kill
  18. Frantic
  19. Cul-de-Sac
  20. Kiss Me Deadly
  21. Point Blank
  22. Farewell, My Lovely
  23. The Big Sleep
  24. The Last Waltz (Mido's theme)

DVD release

Tartan Asian Extreme has released several editions of the film in Region One territories, including a single-disc edition, featuring the film and a small amount of special features.

A three-disc collector's edition has also been released, featuring:

  • Three Audio Commentary Tracks with the Director, Cinematographer and Cast
  • Five Behind-the-Scenes Documentaries
  • Deleted Scenes
  • The first issue of the manga that the film is based upon.
  • Interviews with the Cast and Crew
  • A Featurette titled: "Le Grand Prix at Cannes"
  • And a three-and-a-half hour making-of documentary entitled "The Autobiography of Oldboy"[22]

Oldboy is also available on Blu-Ray.

Other adaptations

An American remake previously had director Justin Lin, best known for the teen crime drama Better Luck Tomorrow, attached.[23] In November 2008, DreamWorks and Universal were securing the rights to the remake, which Will Smith has expressed interest in starring, with Steven Spielberg as director.[24] Mark Protosevich was in talks to write the script, although the acquisition to the remake rights were not finalized.[25] The producing team announced on 10 November 2009 the project is dead.[26] Smith has clarified Spielberg will not be remaking the film though: he is adapting the manga itself,[27] which lacks the octopus eating and incest invented for the film.[28] In June 2009, the comic's publisher launched a lawsuit against the Korean film's producers for giving the film rights to Spielberg without their permission.[29] Later in November 2009, it was reported that Dreamworks, Steven Spielberg and Will Smith had stepped back from the project.[30]

Controversy over Zinda

Zinda, the Bollywood film directed by Sanjay Gupta, also bears a striking resemblance to Oldboy but is not an officially sanctioned remake. It was reported in 2005 that Zinda was under investigation for violation of copyright. A spokesman for Show East, the distributor of Oldboy, said, "if we find out there's indeed a strong similarity between the two, it looks like we'll have to talk with our lawyers."[31]

See also


  1. ^ The Best Selling Films of 2003, retrieved on April 17, 2008.
  2. ^ "Consensus of Oldboy reviews". Retrieved 2007-04-11.  
  3. ^ a b "Ebert review". Roger Ebert. Retrieved 2007-04-11.  
  4. ^
  5. ^ Cine21 Interview about Park's revenge trilogy; April 27, 2007.
  6. ^ "Oldboy Movie Reviews, Pictures - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2008-05-20.  
  7. ^ "Oldboy (2005): Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2008-05-20.  
  8. ^ Review by James Berardinelli, ReelViews
  9. ^ Review by Stephanie Zacharek,
  10. ^ Review by Sean Axmaker, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
  11. ^ Review by Manohla Dargis, New York Times
  12. ^ Review by J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader
  13. ^ Korean Movie Reviews for 2003: Save the Green Planet, Memories of Murder, A Tale of Two Sisters, Old Boy, Silmido, and more
  14. ^ "Oldboy (2005)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2008-05-20.  
  15. ^ "All The Awards (2004)". Cannes Film Festival. Retrieved 2007-04-10.  
  16. ^ "Grand Bell Awards, South Korea (2004)". Retrieved 2007-04-10.  
  17. ^ "Asia-Pacific Film Festival (2004)". Retrieved 2007-04-10.  
  18. ^ "Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival (2004)". Retrieved 2007-04-10.  
  19. ^ "Awards (2004)". Bergen International Film Festival. Retrieved 2007-04-10.  
  20. ^ "Winners (2004)". The British Independent Film Awards. Retrieved 2007-04-10.  
  21. ^ "The Nominations (2004)". The European Film Awards. Retrieved 2007-04-10.  
  22. ^{CB23120D-531C-4501-9C1B-6EF8E5255CED}
  23. ^ "Justin Lin Talks 'Fast & Furious 4' Gig and 'Oldboy' Departure".  
  24. ^ Michael Fleming (2008-11-06). "Spielberg, Smith in talks for 'Oldboy'". Variety. Retrieved 2008-11-07.  
  25. ^ Jay A. Fernandez and Steven Zeitchik (2008-11-19). "DreamWorks sets up 'Old Boy' club". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2008-11-19.  
  26. ^ Oldboy Remake Not Proceeding After All
  27. ^ Brian C. Gibson (2008-11-21). "Will Smith Says Oldboy Won't be Adaptation of Chan-wook Park's Film". Film School Rejects. Retrieved 2008-11-21.  
  28. ^ Elisabeth Rappe (2008-11-21). "Will Smith Definitely Starring In 'Oldboy,' Says Steven Spielberg Film Won't Be A Remake". MTV Movies Blog. Retrieved 2008-11-21.  
  29. ^ "Old Boy Publisher Sues Korean Studio Over U.S. Film Rights". Anime News Network. 20099-06-17. Retrieved 2009-06-18.  
  30. ^ "Will Smith & Steven Spielberg’s Old Boy DEAD!". Latino Review. 2009-11-09. Retrieved 2009-11-09.  
  31. ^ Oldboy Makers Plan Vengeance on Zinda, TwitchFilm

External links

Preceded by
Grand Prix, Cannes
Succeeded by
Broken Flowers


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Oldboy (Hangul:올드보이) is a 2003 South Korean film directed by Park Chan-wook. It is based on a Japanese manga of the same name written by Nobuaki Minegishi and Garon Tsuchiya. Oldboy is the second installment of The Vengeance Trilogy, preceded by Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and followed by Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.

The film won the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and high praise from the President of the Jury, director Quentin Tarantino, who could not persuade the members of the jury to give it the Palme d'Or over Fahrenheit 9/11.

Dae-su Oh

  • Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep and you weep alone.
  • When the melody turns on, gas comes out. When the gas comes out, I fall asleep. I found out later it's the same Valium gas the Russians used on those Chechen terrorists.
  • Anyone here with an AB blood type, raise your hand.
  • As I expected, I can't get along with anyone today either.
  • Erasing my memory and telling me to find the truth was cowardly. I won. So die like you promised.
  • Please. Don't tell Mido. What has she done wrong? You know it was all my fault... I have committed an unforgivable sin, against your sister. And I also... Did you wrong. But, please leave Mido alone... If by any chance Mido finds out the truth, you son of a bitch, I'll tear you limb from limb. And your remains will never be found. Why? Because I'm going to swallow every last bit.
  • I thought I'd lived a simple life. But I've sinned too much
  • The TV is both a clock and a calendar. It's your school, your home, your church, your friend...

[Dae-su masturbates to a pop star onscreen] ... and your lover. But... my lover's song is too short.

  • If they had told me it was going to be fifteen years, would it have been easier to endure?
  • Even though I'm no more than a monster - don't I, too, have the right to live?
  • Can fifteen years of imaginary training really be put to use? [Dae-su fights a gang of thugs] Apparently, it can.

Woo-jin Lee

  • Remember this: "Be it a rock or a grain of sand, in water they sink as the same."
  • What I am isn't important. Why is important.
  • You really are the very monster I created, aren't you? But you won't find out the "why" of this if you kill me. Fifteen years of being curious would go to waste.
  • I'm going to kill every woman you love until you die. You're notorious for not protecting your women.
  • Your gravest mistake wasn't failing to find the answer. You can't find the right answer if you ask the wrong questions.
  • Dae-su Oh talks too much.
  • Your tongue got my sister pregnant! It wasn't Woo-jin Lee's dick; it was Dae-su Oh's tongue!
  • And now... now, what joy will I have left to live for?
  • How's life in a bigger prison, Dae-su?

External Links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Oldboy is a 2003 movie by Park chan-wook. This movie is based on the 1997 Japanese comic book. It is a mystery action movie about match of Oh Dae-su who was confined in private jail during 15 year (Even He didn't know why he is caged) and Lee woo-jin who confined Oh because of revenge. Especially this movie treat human's hatred and revenge in detail and use nice visual techniques to deal with sensational material.

The movie was nominated for many international film festival and won 31 of these including Best Director in Cannes Film Festival 2004.

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