Movie Reviews

Blind Spot Series: Oldboy (2003)

oldboy-movie-review-2003-posterDirector: Park Chan-wook

Genre: Action, Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Runtime: 120 Minutes

Main Cast: Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Kang Hye-jung, Kim Byung-ok, Oh Dal-su, Lee Seung-Shin, Yoon Jin-seo, Ji Dae-han, Oh Tae-kyung

Plot: One night, an intoxicated Oh Dae-su is kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years with nothing to live for but fried dumplings and TV. One day he is released without question and given just 5 days to work out who kidnapped him and why.

My Thoughts: I came across the remake of Oldboy when on the hunt for a good plot-twisty thriller. It’s been on my list for a long time now but from what I’ve read, the remake isn’t very good – and it’s the 2003 South-Korean original that should be watched. Thing is, I’ve only ever watched 2 foreign language movies (terrible I know) and I’ve been apprehensive about adding to that number. Hence, Oldboy was a perfect choice for the Blind Spot Series and a great start to the year!

What I find difficult about foreign language movies is the fact it’s impossible to just switch off and enjoy the movie. You have to pay attention to everything happening in front of you whilst also reading the subtitles, so it’s not relaxing in the basic sense. It also doesn’t help when you’re fairly sleep-deprived!

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed Oldboy. It’s a fantastic tale of revenge with a lot of well-orchestrated violence thrown in for good measure. It’s a long time before the pieces of the puzzle all start to fit together but the payoff is well worth it, even if there are some elements I’m not sure I understood completely. It was one of those endings that makes you say ‘wait, what?!’ and it’s left open to a bit of interpretation. I love a movie that keeps me thinking long after the credits are over.


Despite the poor reviews, I am definitely going to see the 2013 remake soon, even if to just compare the two movies. I did the same last year with Point Break and it was fun to do!

Best Bit: When Oh Dae-su returns to his old school to search his memories for clues, and we get a flashback to the start of the events that led to his imprisonment. It’s then when you can start to figure it all about and get that lightbulb moment.

Worst Bit: I’m not against strong violence in movies by a long shot but what I absolutely cannot stand is anything to do with teeth. I’m terrified of the dentist and to have not one but TWO scenes of teeth being forcibly torn out of someone’s mouth….arghhhhh! I’m getting all shivery just typing this out.

Fun Trivia: The famous one-take corridor scene was shot in three days. No CGI was used to cleverly edit the sequence like a single shot but the scene was actually shot in one take (although a little CGI was used to show Oh Dae Su getting stabbed in the back with a knife and to correct some punches landing).

My Rating: 4 out of 5 live octopodes/octopi/octopuses, a delicacy apparently!


blind-spot-series-2019-bannerThe Blind Spot Series was created a few years ago by Ryan at The Matinee, and is now hosted by Sofia at Returning Videotapes. As part of the Series, bloggers choose 1 movie to watch and review each month that is deemed a ‘classic’ or ‘must-watch’. To see the rest of my picks for the year, check out my announcement post here.


14 thoughts on “Blind Spot Series: Oldboy (2003)

  1. Great review for one of my favourite movies! That one-take scene is absolutely brilliant. The original is definitely better, but the remake is not as bad as some reviews make it out to be. Will definitely keep a lookout for your comparison post. And if you’re looking for another Korean revenge flick, I’d strongly recommend I Saw The Devil! šŸ™‚


  2. So glad you liked this one. It’s one of my all-time favorites. That ending…that…that stuck with me non-stop for days after I first saw it.

    I don’t think the remake is quite as bad as it’s made out to be, but it definitely misses the mark. FWIW, Spike Lee and Josh Brolin both swear studio interference is to blame. According to them, Lee’s cut of the movie is 3 hrs long and a lot better. It hasn’t seen the light of day yet, but I’m holding out hope.


    1. Oh now wouldn’t it be great if the longer cut could be released! You’re the second person now to say the remake isn’t as bad as it’s claimed to be so I’m really thinking I’ll probably enjoy it now!


  3. So glad you liked this one, I love it! šŸ˜Š The teeth thing gives me nightmares too, literally! I’ve had recurring dreams about teeth and jaws and ugh, it’s the worst šŸ˜‚

    Funny how the foreign film thing works differently for people because I’ve obviously grown-up watching movies with subtitles all my life, so when I don’t have them it’s actually weird for me… THAT’S when I have to pay extra attention šŸ˜‚


    1. Ohhh dreams about losing teeth! They are the absolute worst!
      That’s absolutely fascinating, and I never thought about it from the other side of the coin. That said, I watched a lot of subbed anime when I was a teen so I just need to get back into it šŸ™‚


  4. I’ve known about this movie for a long time, but I’ve been avoiding it because of the violence (I heard it’s very violent). But I should give it a try, the plot sounds actually interesting


    1. It’s really, really violent. Definitely one of the strongest movies I’ve ever seen but then I haven’t watched many violent movies. If you can stomach it though the story makes it worth it!


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