After two decades, the shocking thriller “Oldboy” by Park Chan-wook continues to captivate audiences worldwide. The recent 20th-anniversary theatrical re-release by Neon was a success at the box office, drawing in both long-time fans and first-time viewers. Adapted from the manga written by Garon Tsuchiya and illustrated by Nobuaki Minegishi, this film has paved the way for a new wave of live-action manga adaptations and has also brought attention to South Korean cinema on a global scale. A 2013 American remake by director Spike Lee did not receive the same level of success.
A man by the name of Oh Dae-su is taken against his will and held captive in a prison that resembles a hotel room. He has no knowledge of who his captor is or why he is being confined. After 15 years of imprisonment, he is released back into society, only to find himself caught up in a complex web of conspiracy and violence as he seeks retribution against the person who subjected him to this mental torment. Along the way, he reconnects with familiar faces and forms a bond with a young chef named Mi-do. However, when he finally confronts his tormentor, Oh Dae-su is left with more questions than answers, plunging him into a nightmarish spiral of depravity.
The film “Oldboy” is a work of art. Not only did it have a significant impact on Korean cinema, but it is also exceptionally well-crafted from beginning to end. The director and writer, Park Chan-wook, skillfully weaves together a mystery that captivates the audience and keeps them on the edge of their seats, with complex characters and intense suspense. While initially portrayed as a gritty crime story centered around revenge, it ultimately reveals itself to be a tragic tale, culminating in a shocking twist that will leave viewers shocked and heartbroken. Through its disturbing themes, the film also utilizes dark humor and emotional drama to engage the audience. The outstanding performances by Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, and Kang Hye-jung add to the overall impact of the film.
In terms of production, it is an impressive achievement with stunning graphics, skillful editing, and an exceptional musical score by Jo Yeong-wook. The film sporadically includes breathtaking action scenes, with the standout being the iconic fight in the hallway.