Oldboy (2003) Review

The central idea in Oldboy is a fantastic one but the execution means that the ending just lost me. It’s a great idea; a man is kidnapped and locked in a room for 15 years with little or no contact or explanation. Suddenly he is released and given the task of finding out who and why he was incarcerated.

This is the part of the movie that is done excellently. The whole mystery surrounding the capture and imprisonment, and the actual years of being locked up, are delivered in painstaking fashion. Min-Sik Choi is great as the drunk who becomes a driven hero, training, going slightly mad and losing all focus except for his “mission.” It’s a convincing performance and a great transformation from the scenes at the beginning to the scenes at the end.

Min-Sik Choi manages to transform himself brilliantly


Even after he is released, there are plenty of great moments in the movie. The infamous squid scene, the slow unravelling of the mystery and an action-packed, expertly shot and choreographed battle involving a hammer and a brutal battle with a group of armed goons. It’s all delivered in a fantastic fashion.

It’s when the movie begins to quicken, giving much more information and explaining things further that it loses it’s way. There seems to be little sense or direction to what is happening and where the story is going. The actions of both the hero and villain, played by Ji-Tae Yu, make little sense and when we finally get the shocking finale, it’s not quite what anyone would expect.

Some of the actions of the characters begin to stretch credibility


The actual twist in the tale is a great one. You don’t see it coming and it doesn’t get much darker but its in his delivery that left me baffled. The whole finale, set in the penthouse room of a high-rise skyscraper, is a baffling mess. Monologues, revelations and desperate moments from each character involved seems to jar hugely with some of the great moments that have gone before. The movie seems to successfully build an unlikely hero but then destroy him in one foul swoop in a way that you just don’t see coming. It’s all slightly confusing.

Overall, there is some great moments in Oldboy which clearly make it the movie that many people remember. From a great initial concept, strange scenes involving seafood and that hammer battle, there is plenty that people will enjoy. Even the resolution to the whole mystery is delightfully twisted and unexpected but its in it’s confused, bizarre delivery that the movie lost me, slightly ruining what had gone before.

Rating – 3

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

That corridor scene is rightfully iconic



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