Daesu Oh is a drunk and a philanderer but otherwise a fairly typical husband and father, until one day he is kidnapped and imprisoned in a cell for 15 years with only a TV set for company and no word of explanation. One day he wakes up in the outside world with only a wallet and a phone, and he sets out on a single-minded quest to find out why he was imprisoned and extract bloody vengeance on those responsible.
The second part of the Vengeance Trilogy by Chan-wook Park, Oldboy is a bizarre and brilliant film. It constantly wrong foots you by playing with your perceptions and contains the kind of revelation that makes the kind of so-called plot “twists” of most films look gimmicky and inane. This is the kind of film that blows you away and makes you realise you’ve been watching the whole thing from the wrong point of view. As for Min-sik Choi’s performance, astonishing is the only word for it; the way such intense emotions and motivations are constantly shifting without ever feeling contrived or forced is just spellbinding. It combines art and extreme violence in a way that reminded me of A Clockwork Orange, but better. It’s also stylistically on the same level as Fight Club and is absolutely riveting from beginning to end.
A modern classic by any measure.