STUDIO: Tartan
MSRP: $24.99
RUNNING TIME: 120 min.
• Interview with the Director
• Director’s and Cinematographer’s Commentary
• Deleted Scenes
• Theatrical Trailer
• Fan Trailer Contest Winner
• Photo Gallery

The Pitch

“He ain’t getting any younger. Let’s get that legal DVD out there.”

The Humans

Choi Min-Sik, Yoo Ji-Tae, Gang Hye-Jung

The Nutshell

Drunken salaryman Oh Dae-Su (Choi) finds himself one morning in a strange apartment. He remains imprisoned there for fifteen years. Just as he is about to complete his escape, he is set free. He hits the streets with one thought—to get revenge upon whoever locked him up. But is his mysterious jailer really finished with him yet?

"Y’all come back now. I’m here all week."

The Lowdown

Oldboy has already been formally reviewed twice on this site, HERE, and HERE, not to mention completely deconstructed along with the other two vengeance films in Park Chan-Wook’s trilogy HERE. I have to say, coming late to the party, that it’s not quite the all-out mind-blowing experience I was led to expect. Part of that is likely because certain details of the plot have made their way out of the spoiler zone in the last year or so. That’s the problem with surprise plot twists—they only work once. I’ve often wondered if it would be possible to have myself hypnotized so that I wouldn’t have any outside knowledge of a given movie before I saw it, but I suspect I wouldn’t be as curious to see said movie to begin with.

That said, Choi’s performance in the lead is phenomenal. His physical transformation from doughy businessman to quixotic killing machine is completely convincing. Gang is adorable as a sushi chef who serves Dae-Su his first outside meal and comes to assist him on his quest for vengeance.


Ultimately, though, I’m not sure what Oldboy is trying to say, aside from the observation that human beings can be unbelievably shitty to each other.

The Package

Whatever else I may think about Oldboy, I have to admit it looks and sounds great. A unique green-and-purple palette pervades nearly every scene, and the camerawork is exceptionally fluid. There are occasional interlacing artifacts in the transfer but nothing too distracting. The disc defaults to the original Korean dialogue track, but an English dub is also available.

Can’t touch this.

Director Park Chan-Wook is joined by cinematographer Jeong Jeong-Hun for a rather dry, technical commentary (English subtitles are provided). It’s fun listening to them joke around by referring to –and occasionally insulting– each other in the third person, but unless you’re taking notes on darkroom techniques there’s not much insight to be found.

The deleted scenes are mostly extended versions of stuff already in the film, but two stand out: one is the uncut version of Dae-Su’s initial detention at the police station, and the other depicts him waking up in his cell for the first time. The first would have run too long, but it’s great to see Choi’s improvisations unhindered by jump-cuts. The second? Gee, that’s kind of an important scene. Was Park afraid he’d be accused of conventional storytelling?

7.5 out of 10