Oldboy DVD Review

Written by Peter West

DVD released by Tartan Films USA


Directed by Chan-wook Park
Written by Jo-yun Hwang and Chun-hyeong Lim
2003, Region 1 (NTSC), 120 minutes, Rated R
DVD released on August 23rd, 2005

Min-sik Choi as Dae-su Oh
Ji-tae Yu as Woo-jin Lee
Hye-jeong Kang as Mi-do
Dae-han Ji as No Joo-hwan
Dal-su Oh as Park Cheol-woong
Byeong-ok Kim as Mr. Han
Seung-Shin Lee as Yoo Hyung-ja
Jin-seo Yun as Lee Soo-ah
Dae-yeon Lee as Beggar
Kwang-rok Oh as Suicidal Man
Tae-kyung Oh as Young Dae-su
Yeon-suk Ahn as Young Woo-jin
Il-han Oo as Young Joo-hwan


Arrested by the police after getting drunk in public, Dae-su Oh is picked up at the station by a friend. While his friend is talking to Oh's wife in a phone booth, Dae-su Oh mysteriously disappears. Dae-su Oh wakes up to find find himself in a private prison. Given no explanation of why he has been imprisoned, Dae-su Oh channels his anger during the years into physical training and multiple suicide attempts. Fifteen years go by and suddenly Dae-su Oh is released in a new suit with money and a cell phone.

While having dinner Dae-su Oh starts a conversation with the chef Mi-do and they quickly start a relationship. Setting out for revenge against his captors Dae-su Oh finds out who was behind his imprisonment, a mysterious man know as Evergreen. Confronting the man Dae-su Oh is told that he has only five days to figure out the reason for his imprisonment or Evergreen will kill Mi-do. Dae-su Oh discovers that his "torture" has only just begun!


Oldboy is the one of the most critically acclaimed films to come out of South Korea along with A Tale of Two Sisters. It did not disappoint! Without getting much into spoilers, this movie kept me guessing until the end. The level of mind games played by "Evergreen" is incredible. While the "secret" reason for the imprisonment may be a hair disappointing, it is logical. With all of the hype I had read, I was surprised I was not let down as A Tale of Two Sisters did to me.

Oldboy delivers in the action and gore department, there are some great fight scene and enough red stuff to even keep an arterial splatter samurai fan like myself satisfied. I recommend the film highly. On that note, I read today while searching on IMDB that an American version is in production for 2006. I do hope it does it's Korean counterpart justice unlike the poor attempts Hollywood has been making to remake Asian hits!

This movie has it all, plot, action, violence, gore, it is truly a rewarding viewing experience.

Video and Audio:

Oldboy is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Surprisingly though the movie was shot on film, the film flag was not triggered on my DVD player which makes me suspect it was transferred later from digital sources. Oldboy is a beautiful movie picture quality wise, it's gritty in the dirty prison scenes and spectacularly brilliant in the mountain scenes at the conclusion.

Oldboy has a Dolby Digital EX 5.1 soundtrack in English (dubbed) and Korean language Dolby 5.1 and DTS 5.1 tracks. My normal choice on all films that have a DTS track is to listen to it and this was no different. I personally do not listen to dubs on foreign films if subtitles are available, so I did not even bother to listen to it. The DTS track is impressive and works well with the film. I'm almost tempted to deduct for having the dub, but I won't.

Special Features:

As with almost every film in Tartan's Asia Extreme series, Oldboy is loaded with extras. There's an interview with the director, a director and cinematographer commentary, picture gallery and photo gallery. There's also the lineup of other Tartan film trailers (including Oldboy's) that (unlike some American companies lately) we don't have to sit through to get to the movie. Tartan has been top notch in this department since their initial release last year.


Movie: Fourandahalfstars
Video: Fourandahalfstars
Audio: Fivestars
Features: Fourstars
Overall: Fourandahalfstars


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