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Parents' Guide to


By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Great but extremely brutal, vicious revenge story.

Movie R 2003 120 minutes
Oldboy Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 6 parent reviews

age 16+

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
age 17+

Watch out for that hammer!

My introduction to Chan-wook Park's work and my admiration for his storytelling inspires me to seek out all of his films. He has a foothold in both violence, misogyny, and revenge in a way that is voyeuristic, enjoyable and also super creepy and makes me want to look away. He is all of these at once in his films and Oldboy is no exception. An incredible story that is not for the weak hearted. I had no idea that a hammer could do so much.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (6 ):
Kids say (9 ):

Park Chan-wook's vicious story of vengeance is shocking but explores the complexity of human nature on a thrillingly primal level. The first images of Dae-su in Oldboy -- seen in Korean with English subtitles for this review -- are of an obnoxious drunk, but it's not long before his confinement makes us sympathetic; no one deserves this kind of torture. Yet his mind is free, and it's intriguing to see his attempts to pass the time, to hold onto something. All the while, the mystery of his imprisonment makes these moments doubly intriguing. Even after the character's release, Park continues to sustain the movie's intensity to the final shot, playing off of the character's transformation.

Now taut, darkened, and haunted, he's as unsure of himself around his love interest Mi-do as he is capable of violence. An unforgettable scene has him eating a live squid just to feel the sensation of it. But in arguably the movie's most famous shot, Park simply tracks left and right for several minutes as Dae-su fights dozens of men in real time. But within the adrenaline rush of his revenge journey, Mi-do (and other female characters) pay the price for male ego. Park fails to give them any agency, leaving a sour taste in an otherwise intriguing and brutal mystery.

Movie Details

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