Park Chan Wook’s 2003 film Old Boy is a definite must watch for the action thriller fan. Not just another blood and gore horror flick, Old Boy is a well crafted dark tale of revenge.

From the streets of Korea, drunken business man Oh Dae-Su (Choi Min-Sik) is abducted and finds himself confined to a small prison cell furnished as a shabby apartment. After receiving information that his wife had been murdered and daughter abducted Dae-Su concocts a plan to escape and exact revenge until, after 15 years of imprisonment, Dae-Su is released back into society without explanation. Left with a suit, a briefcase filled with money and a mobile phone, Dae-Su sets himself on a mission to discover who imprisoned him and who killed his wife and kidnapped his daughter.

Old Boy is an action packed film that can be enjoyed whether it is your first or hundredth Korean movie. Throughout the film I felt there was little in the cultural difference between audience and movie that could create a barrier of understanding. Characters reflect with voice overs and much is communicated through actions and visual elements, what is being conveyed can be understood easily.

After viewing Sympathy for Lady Vengeance and Sympathy for Mr Vengeance the scenes of graphic violence, decapitation and dark atmosphere familiar in Park Chan Woon’s films was definitely expected. With gory scenes that can make you cringe, a memorable slow devouring of live octopus to a bloody rampage using nothing but a hammer, Old Boy, without a doubt, delivers the violence and gore on an extreme level. Prepare your stomachs for gut wrenching scenes of violent action when watching this film.

There is a heavy amount of violence in Old Boy but this is definitely not another movie where the bloody aspects are the focus. Comedy, love and exploration into what is right and wrong leaves you thinking while the storyline elements of Old Boy weave together, keeping you guessing what is behind every corner with anticipation until you reach a shocking and completely unpredictable ending.

Exciting and keeping you on the edge of your seat, Old Boy is an action thriller that is in no way predictable. Gore, violence, drama, love and discovery of self are a tough combination but Old Boy executes this perfectly. Be warned though, a strong stomach is needed for this one.


Old Boy was reviewed as part of a special screening for KOFFIA 2012.