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I was reading movie blogs when I came across “Oldboy”. There were good reviews about the film but I was not that interested at first. I thought it was another violent film with no depth – only showing cruelty in different forms, sickening, shallow, and forgettable. It was months later when I finally downloaded and watched the movie. Oh man, it is brilliant. “Oldboy” is brutally good. Thrilling and shocking! Here is the movie plot.....

Korean businessman Oh Dae-su is bailed out from a local police station by his close friend Joo-Hwan after a drunken fight. Suddenly, Dae-su disappears. Kidnapped and confined to a shabby hotel room with no explanation, Dae-su is not allowed any contact and is fed only fried dumplings through a narrow slot. He keeps himself fit and occupied with shadowboxing. While watching television, he discovers that his wife has been murdered, his daughter sent to foster parents and that he himself is the prime suspect.

Dae-su is suddenly set free on the rooftop of a building 15 years after. Dae-su is given a cellphone by a stranger and goes to a local restaurant, where he meets young chef Mi-do, who brings him to her home. Dae-su realizes he is being tracked through phone calls from his unidentified captor. Dae-su locates the restaurant that provided the fried dumplings during his imprisonment and tortures the warden for information. He then fights his way out past numerous goons. Collapsing on the street, a stranger places him in a taxi, only to direct him to Mi-do's address.

 The man, named Woo-jin, reveals himself as Dae-su's kidnapper and tells him that Dae-su must discover his motives. Mi-do will die if he fails, but if he succeeds, Woo-jin will kill himself. Later, Dae-su and Mi-do grow emotionally closer together and have sex. Dae-su discovers he and Woo-jin briefly attended the same high school and remembers spying on Woo-jin's incestuous relationship with his sister, Soo-ah. Dae-su, unaware of their genetic relationship, inadvertently spread the rumor before transferring to another school. Soo-ah's mental turmoil grew, causing physical signs of pregnancy and her eventual suicide.

Dae-su confronts Woo-jin at his penthouse. Woo-jin then gives Dae-su a photo album. 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 the events surrounding Dae-su were 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. A horrified Dae-su begs Woo-jin to conceal the secret from Mi-do, pleading 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 knowledge and leaves Dae-su in his penthouse. As he rides alone in the elevator, he is struck by the vivid memory of his sister's death, in which he was complicit, and shoots himself in the head.

Dae-su sits in a winter landscape, where he makes a deal with the hypnotist, asking for her help to allow him to forget the secret. Hours later, Dae-su wakes up, the hypnotist gone, and stumbles about before finally meeting with Mi-do. They embrace, and Mi-do tells Dae-su that she loves him.

“Oldboy” is a 2005 Korean film about vengeance. It was vengeance from both sides – from the protagonist who was imprisoned for reasons unknown to him, and from the villain who wanted revenge for a loved one’s death. It is a two-hour hour movie, intriguing and puzzling at the beginning that takes on an accelerated pace near the end.

As expected in this type of movie, there are lots of violence, but it was depicted in slow and subtle ways that made it extremely haunting and gruesome. There are bloodsheds but my stomach was not at all upset by them. Several scenes are really disturbing like the suicide on the roof, the gang fight, the tortures, and the hero’s laceration of his tongue. Unlike other movies, violence is somehow clearly “justified” for its purpose.

“Oldboy” has one of the best climax. It starts slowly but still interesting, and ends surprisingly and sadly. The plot was very-well written; scenes after scenes are very unpredictable that kept audience wondering more and more. Near the end, when the puzzle is pieced together, the world crumbles on the hero while the viewers are left stunned and sorrowed. Silence, as viewers absorb the revelations and sympathize the hero.... It is indeed a well-crafted movie.

“Oldboy” evokes extreme emotions on the audience, as the actions of the characters originated from loss, love, and hate. I don’t know, but I felt my emotions heightened as the movie progresses. In many ways, I empathize with the hero and even with the villain in the end – the villain who was still empty after his best plans were realized. He has actually no heart, save for the mechanical pacemaker, and the only thing that makes him alive is the prospect of satisfying himself with revenge. But was he really satisfied in the end? Was vengeance worth it?

I love the film. This may not be my type of movie; I guess this is an exception. It is wonderful and unforgettable.

“Oldboy”  was a blockbuster hit in South Korea and aside from good ratings, has received numerous awards both locally and globally. It truly deserves them.

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