Oldboy 2003

Critics score:
80 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press: A revenge film like none you have seen. Read more

Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune: It's a movie of such jaw-dropping violence, wild improbability and dazzling style it overpowers all resistance. Read more

J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader: There's a lot less here than meets the eye. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: Shakespearean in its violence, Oldboy also calls up nightmare images of spiritual and physical isolation that are worthy of Samuel Beckett or Dostoyevsky. Read more

John Hartl, Seattle Times: The script reveals itself as an absurdly convoluted tale of betrayal and revenge. Read more

Walter V. Addiego, San Francisco Chronicle: Deserves to be seen because of its relentless energy, the acting by Choi Min-sik that strikes a genuinely tragic note amid the mayhem and cartoonish excess, and the director's clear conviction that this wild story will resonate. Read more

Bob Townsend, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: A visually beguiling trip that keeps pulling you along and keeps you wondering what fresh hell could possibly come next. Read more

Scott Tobias, AV Club: It's hard to make an argument for Oldboy based on anything other than pure cinematics, but when the style speaks this loudly, it's an argument worth making. Read more

Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic: Combining the sinister suspense of Alfred Hitchcock with the unrepentant violence of Quentin Tarantino, South Korean director Park Chan-wook delivers a revenge tale as shocking as it is thought-provoking. Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: For a while, though, this is as invigorating -- and as darkly funny -- as modern rogue moviemaking gets. Read more

Carina Chocano, Los Angeles Times: It says something when you come out of a film as weird and fantastical as Oldboy and feel that you've experienced something truly authentic. I just don't know what. I can't think of anything to compare it to. Read more

Michael Booth, Denver Post: It is brutally epic. Read more

Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly: It's an onslaught made to cause a sensation. Consider me simultaneously jolted and depressed. Read more

Chris Vognar, Dallas Morning News: Director Park Chanwook forces us to feel Oh Dae-su's pent-up rage and obsession with revenge, making us complicit when he acts out. Read more

Scott Foundas, L.A. Weekly: Even as imitations go, Oldboy doesn't measure up. Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: Old Boy may be too extreme for its characters to truly engage you, but it is safe to say you will not be bored. Read more

Jan Stuart, Newsday: You will either feel mollified by the hysterically moral denouement or feel offended by the filmmaker's strategy of debasement, which reduces the audience to the mongrel-like prostration of its protagonist. Read more

Jami Bernard, New York Daily News: Both brutal and lyrical, writer-director Park Chan-wook's existential nail-biter has torture scenes that will have you avoiding dentists, sushi bars and badly appointed hotel rooms. Read more

Manohla Dargis, New York Times: Park Chanwook's frenzied thriller is entertaining to watch, which is a good thing, because there is not much to think about here, outside of the choreographed mayhem. Read more

Rex Reed, New York Observer: As pointless as it is shocking. Read more

Roger Moore, Orlando Sentinel: It's mesmerizing and discomfiting, engaging the viewer on a visceral and an intellectual level. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: Oldboy is consistently compelling. Read more

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times: Oldboy is a powerful film not because of what it depicts, but because of the depths of the human heart which it strips bare. Read more

Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com: It's a grand, gritty, indelible experience. Read more

David Edelstein, Slate: Oldboy is a movie where you think you're in hell from the first frame -- but have no inkling of the infernal circles to come. Read more

Geoff Pevere, Toronto Star: While one might argue that it loses credibility and impact as it reaches further along the ledge of outrageous, tummy churning plot developments, there's no denying the turbulence it creates. Read more

Trevor Johnston, Time Out: Quite an achievement then, and well worthy of its Cannes prize. Read more

Derek Elley, Variety: Whether chomping down on a live octopus (in one of several scenes that require a strong stomach) or festering with half-crazed rage and impotence, Choi gives a bravura performance that powers the picture. Read more

Michael Atkinson, Village Voice: Oldboy may be a filmmaker's tour de force, but props should also be delivered to Choi, whose wretched, Herculean performance as the new millennium's Job could restore your faith in the selfless courage of acting. Read more

Desson Thomson, Washington Post: Tantalizes and tortures you as it lures you into its mysterious vortex. Read more

Stephen Hunter, Washington Post: Its magnificence is that it takes itself dead serious. It's not entertainment, but it's sure a piece of toughness. Read more