Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: Get 12 Issues For £25
Buy the perfect Christmas present this year
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue
Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Choi Min-sik
Yu Ji-tae
Kang Hye-jeong .
Directors
Park Chan-wook.
Screenwriters
Park Chan-wook
Hwang Jo-yun
Lim Chun-hyeong.
Running Time
120 minutes

LATEST FILM REVIEWS
Kingsman: The Secret Service
4 Star Empire Rating
Annie
2 Star Empire Rating
Theory Of Everything, The
4 Star Empire Rating
Bringing Tibet Home
3 Star Empire Rating
Kon-Tiki
4 Star Empire Rating



5 STAR REVIEWS
Leviathan
5 Star Empire Rating
Le Jour Se Lève
5 Star Empire Rating
Tony Benn: Will And Testament
5 Star Empire Rating
Nightcrawler
5 Star Empire Rating
Babadook, The
5 Star Empire Rating

Oldboy
South Korean writer-director Park Chan-wook's helter-skelter descent into the dingiest pit of human behaviour.


submit to reddit


Plot
One night, Dae-su (Choi) is locked up in a mysterious prison - with no idea why. After 15 torturous years, he's suddenly released and given a mobile phone, a designer suit and a wallet full of cash…


Review
No doubt about it, OldBoy is all about extremity. You want torture? Try getting your head around the idea of being in solitary for 15 years. Violence? Check out the one-take corridor brawl in which psychologically ravaged Dae-su takes on a score of goons... with a claw-hammer.

You want to know how far someone could go to wreak revenge? Well, we advise you to brave South Korean writer-director Park Chan-wook's helter-skelter descent into the dingiest pit of human behaviour, even if at times it is tough going and ludicriously unfeasible.

As Empire viewed a pre-BBFC-scrutinised cut of the movie, the infamous live-octopus-eating scene remained intact; it's doubtful this truly stomach-churning moment will make it into UK cinemas. But there's plenty else to shock even without it - and all done with such unabashed verve that you'll be as compelled as you are repulsed.

OldBoy recalls Fincher in its CG-assisted flourishes and doomy themes, and Tarantino with its sharp-suited, stylised bloodletting. But it's unlikely either of those guys would ever be allowed to push it as far as Park has with this. Like we said, the word is extreme...


Verdict
Not to everyone's tastes, but if you have a strong stomach, OldBoy is sure to impress.


Reviewed by


Related Reviews

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Oldboy
Empire Star Rating

This really is an original Korean masterpiece - superb acting, perfectly stylish and gripping direction, and an original take on the classic revenge film. At times, the motives of the revenge and aspects of the script are questionable, and the love interest of the film is very whiney and irritating at times, but these minor flaws seem to become minuscule as the film progresses. It will be interesting to see how the American remake fairs in comparison. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by danfacey711 at 16:51, 31 July 2013 | Report This Post


This really is an original Korean masterpiece - superb acting, perfectly stylish and gripping direction, and an original take on the classic revenge film. At times, the motives of the revenge and aspects of the script are questionable, and the love interest of the film is very whiney and irritating at times, but these minor flaws seem to become minuscule as the film progresses. It will be interesting to see how the American remake fairs in comparison. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by danfacey711 at 16:48, 31 July 2013 | Report This Post


A breathtaking masterpiece

From all the hype surrounding this movie, I was sure I'd be disappointed. But I was completely blown away. One of the most stunning movies made so far this century. Utterly brilliant. Just so you don't judge me too harshly, the only reason I put off watching this movie for years was because the animal on this planet that freaks me out more than any other is, you guessed it, the octopus. And of course who hasn't heard of THAT scene? But recently, I decided it was time to just brave it out. I... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Gittes at 14:20, 28 February 2013 | Report This Post


overly long and very boring in places. Plus the main love interest is unbearable whiny ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by david hayes at 03:08, 02 May 2012 | Report This Post


An amazing film. The review is terrible, this is not just some sick, twisted movie. It is a masterpiece plain and simple, and is very human and emotional. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Coyleone at 16:20, 09 September 2011 | Report This Post


Startling And Compelling

Oldboy is a perfectly paced and brilliantly executed Korean revenge piece, with more intelligence and depth than is usually common in the genre. The lead performance is flawless, and the set design is absolutely perfect. The freeform plot has some minor problems finding its' feet in the first half of the film, but as the story slowly comes full circle, it evolves into a thoughtful, disturbing, brilliantly shot film that's just that little bit more intelligent than you think it is. Exciting stuff... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 22:39, 15 February 2011 | Report This Post


Oldboy

its the tits ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jackmars at 11:57, 05 November 2010 | Report This Post


Ive never been "groosed out" by a movie before but yhen again I had never seen a man eat a live octopus before. This movie has alot of very dark themes and violence but with a plot this sick and twisted and a brilliant corridor single take brawl this is a brilliant film all the same. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by stevolegendbauer at 01:33, 04 August 2010 | Report This Post


Top Stuff in this Revenge Masterpiece

Well, Oldboy truly is a Korean Masterpiece. I don't think anyone could say otherwise. It's such gripping, edge of your seat stuff. By the end you want to know as well as he does why this has happened to him. The twist is sublime and emotionally disturbing. As other people say you do have to have a strong stomach to handle this. It's one of those films where boredom is not an option and indeed you won't be. The climax is well worth waiting for, I give this a well deserved five stars. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by buckley1989 at 14:28, 03 March 2010 | Report This Post


Awesome, mind-blowing and just plain brutal

Thrilling, extraordinarily powerful, and so gripping you'll not want to turn it off. There are so many words, but I'll leave it simple. This is the best revenge-thriller ever made. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Kieran94 at 19:00, 26 January 2010 | Report This Post


Mind-blowingly good. Fantastic performances all round. The film is incredibly slick, but not at anytime overbearing, and is earnest in its delivery. A must-see for cinema lovers. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by erniebacon at 15:39, 21 January 2010 | Report This Post


5 Stars

Wonderfull, the soundtrack is great, everything is in the right place, Park Chan-Wook made a unfogettable movie. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Djusa at 16:57, 17 April 2009 | Report This Post


It's a shame the Empire review doesn't talk at all about the startlingly human nature of the film. It really is not just for gore hounds. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by wooz at 16:41, 29 September 2008 | Report This Post


Extreme, not by some standards...

All I can say is, don't watch this in the same week as Gaspar Noé's 'Irreversible' and Darren Aronofsky's 'Requiem For A Dream'. You'll be depressed for months.... As dark as this is, Choi Min Sik's performance is compelling and there are enough ludicrous twists and drastic turns to keep you intrigued. As for extreme, Takeshi Miike might disagree... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by AlJames82 at 13:52, 22 January 2008 | Report This Post


GREAT TWIST

best Korean film. Brilliant ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 10:06, 26 October 2007 | Report This Post


GREAT TWIST

best Korean film. Brilliant ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bobbyperu at 10:06, 26 October 2007 | Report This Post


Dark but good but not good for some stomachs

. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by David G at 19:57, 16 September 2007 | Report This Post


Impressive

It is eay to compare this to Kill bill,despite it being in a different language and setting. But to me, after this, the bride had it easy. Whereas that was a hyperkinetic ultra viloent fantasy, this is firmly grounded in reality established by clips of events as Dae-su is imprisoned. When the bride escapes, she basily struts out and leaps right into action. Dae-su, however is truly lost in a 'bigger prison' and truly suffers. Finally, the violence. Surprisingly, it is nowhere near as frequent or... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ace Rothstein at 14:28, 03 August 2007 | Report This Post


Love the unique storytelling ability of park, Oldboy does what lady vengeance valiantly attempts to do. Its Violent nature will be to some too hardcore but quite necessary for the film to work. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by vinnyw23 at 15:49, 25 April 2007 | Report This Post


Put it in your top 10 of all time!

This is one of the few films that I have repeat-watched, probably about 5 times now. Invariably with films, you are advised to stop reading these reviews and watch it, lest you come across spoilers you wish you didn't. The first time I saw oldboy it was the very end of the film that struck the biggest chord. Oh Dae-Su's decision to forget and (likely) carry on regardless with Mido was probably the films most powerful scene. It made me put myself in his shoes and seriously consider the poss... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dhollseed at 18:16, 16 January 2007 | Report This Post


... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by taz_e at 14:03, 27 December 2006 | Report This Post


Oldboy

They good film. This is a must watch. Thats asuming you have the stomach for it. Its extremely violent but amazing at the same time. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by solid snake at 15:58, 14 December 2006 | Report This Post


Really Overrated

Look The First Hour just blew my mind and the second just was pretentious crap, I was extremely disappointed after the brilliant first ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by SethGecko at 01:29, 19 August 2006 | Report This Post


5 *****

Visually and stylistically this really is like an asian Fincher film, though Oldboy's last minute twist beats Fight Club and The Game's hands down. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JasonC19 at 04:13, 14 July 2006 | Report This Post


One of the greats!

Five star film without a doubt. Not only the best asian film of all time but one of the best films of all time full stop. killer twist that you won't see coming until it hits you. If you haven't seen it you really are missing out. It is hardcore but if you don't like violence and very strong sublect matter it is still worth giving it a chance. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chaddiver at 15:11, 23 May 2006 | Report This Post


More user comments

SUBSCRIPTION OFFERS

SAVE UP TO 69% GET 12 ISSUES FOR ONLY £25
Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The biggest, best, brightest and sometimes weirdest films of the coming year

James Cameron Talks Tech, Terminators and Avatar Sequels
An extended version of our interview from our Peter Jackson guest-edited issue

Empire's Three Favourite Scenes Of 2014
A hat-trick of moneyshots from the last 12 months

The 32 Funniest Movie Moments Of The Year
2014's side-splittingest scenes

The 10 Best Games Of The Year
2014's top pixel-pushers duke it out for the number one slot

Dan Stevens: The Breakout Star Of 2014
We congratulate The Guest star on his year to remember

The 15 Most Memorable Character Deaths Of The Year
2014’s RIP honour roll

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save maney on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)