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Old Boy (2002)

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Jonathan Tam
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Old Boy (2002)

Old Boy is a korean film by Park Chan-wook. It tells the story of an aging drunk, Dae-su, who spends his 4-year-old’s birthday arrested in a cell. He is soon kidnapped on a psychotic thriller that ends in both an incredibly satisfying and dark way. Old Boy is not just what I would consider an amazing foreign film, but a cinematic masterpiece. Dae-su’s kidnapping unfolds to be a planned kidnapping by an old high school classmate and the sinister plans of his classmate lead to all the character’s eventual demise. And the story is told almost to reflect that of a greek tragedy.


Spoilers Ahead

Dae-su is tricked into falling in love with his daughter as punishment for spreading rumor about how his high school classmate had relations with his sister. This has very similar tones to the greek tragedy, Oedipus, whose lead character has relations with his mother. In the character’s pursuit of truth, Oedipus eventually finds himself blind. And similarly Dae-su finds himself without a tongue at the conclusion of the film.


The film’s multiformity of an old greek tragedy make it an incredibly insightful film to learn from, but the content of the film is not at ALL school appropriate. Old Boy is certainly something I would recommend for students in college and studying english, but far from anything any high school student should watch. Despite this, the film is a great way of showing how developed korean cinema has become and how rewarding foreign films can be. I was blown away at how much Old Boy kept me at the edge of my seat as it is one of the best psychological thrillers I have ever seen, competing with some of the greatest thrillers like Memento and Seven.


I give Old Boy, a 9/10.