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Oldboy film image, director Park Chan-wook

Oldboy

올드보이

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Choi Min-sik stars as a man, Dae Su, who is held captive in a sealed apartment for 15 years. He never sees his captor, and never learns the reason for his imprisonment – nor why he’s kept alive, for that matter. Then, just as inexplicably, he’s free. He sets about tracking down his tormentor – keenly aware that he’s still being toyed with.

Oldboy is as original and exciting a slice of pure cinema as any film fan could dream of. There are images here which will boggle your mind. Not least, a notorious scene when Choi gobbles down a recalcitrant live octopus. Then there’s the fight scene where Dae Su takes on 20 men in a single unbroken take…

Oldboy makes us feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s a grand, gritty, indelible experience, the sort of picture that mimics great literature in the way it envelops you in a well-told story while also evoking subtle but strong gradations of emotion. Oldboy begins as a revenge fantasy and evolves into something much more complex and redemptive. It’s a thrilling picture, and in places a funny one, yet it can’t be classified as an action picture or a comedy — it’s too infused with tragic poetry to be so conveniently buttonholed. Oldboy is a viscerally charged picture, and an exceedingly beautiful one, but its beauty springs directly from its anguish. It’s like a flower watered with blood.

Stephanie Zacharek, Salon

Shakespearean in its violence, Oldboy also calls up nightmare images of spiritual and physical isolation that are worthy of Samuel Beckett or Dostoyevsky.

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal

A lurid, complex, introspective beast, enacting astonishing cruelty on its protagonist like a slow-acting poison.

Kambole Campbell, Little White Lies

 

Sept 17: Introduction by Christopher Beaubien, an independent filmmaker based in Vancouver whose short films include “Socket” (2016) and “Siren” (2020), which has nearly completed its worldwide festival run.

Director

Park Chan-wook

Cast

Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Kang Hye-jeong

Credits
Country of Origin

South Korea

Year

2003

Language

In Korean with English subtitles

Awards

Winner: Grand Jury Prize, Cannes Film Festival

19+
120 min

Book Tickets

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Credits

Executive Producer

Kim Dong-ju

Producer

Kim Dong-joo, Lim Seung-yong

Screenwriter

Park Chan-wook, Lim Chun-hyeong, Hwang Jo-yun

Cinematography

Chung Chung-hoon

Editor

Kim Jae-beom, Kim Sang-beom

Original Music

Jo Yeong-wook

Production Design

Ryu Seong-hie

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