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Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep and you weep alone.

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Even if I'm no better than a beast, don't I have the right to live?

A South Korean movie very loosely based on a Japanese manga of the same name, and is the second and most well-known installment of Park Chan-wook's Vengeance Trilogy, which begins with Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and ends with Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. The film also has several parallels to The Count of Monte Cristo, as well as Shout Outs to Titus Andronicus.

Oh Dae-su is an alcoholic businessman with a wife and daughter who is released by the police after a night of drunken misconduct, and then is abruptly kidnapped without a trace. Locked inside a hotel room, completely cut off from the outside world except for a TV, and drugged with knock-out gas every so often, he eventually learns that during his disappearance his wife has been killed, and he has been framed as the murderer. Enraged by his predicament, he finds ways to pass the time, writing his memoirs, training his fists and slowly inching towards his eventual escape.

But just days before his long-awaited breakout fifteen years later, he is just as mysteriously released, with nice clothes, money, a cell phone, a severely weakened psyche, a fugitive status and a million unanswered questions. With the help of a female Japanese chef named Mido and one of his old computer-geek friends, he tries to piece together the scattered clues of who took his life away from him, cutting down anyone who gets in his path.

An English-language remake was in development for some time, and was released in 2013. Spike Lee directed the remake, with Josh Brolin in the lead role.

This is a movie that has some major twists and surprises.

WARNING! There are unmarked Spoilers ahead. Beware.


Tropes used in Oldboy include:


  • 555: Averted, as the address - both the street number and PO box - to Dae-su's daughter's foster parents in reality belongs to a hotel in Stockholm.
  • Adaptational Location Change: The original manga was set in Japan. The film moves the setting to South Korea.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Since the film is set in South Korea instead of Japan, every character's name is changed to sound more Korean (with the exception of the Japanese Mi-do).
  • Age-Gap Romance: While Oh Dae-su isn't a senior citizen (so May–December Romance is averted), he's still old enough to be Mi-do's father. And he is.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Perhaps one of the darkest versions in cinema. After learning that he was tricked into having sex with his own daughter, Dae-su breaks down, begging Woo-jin not to reveal this to her. He licks Woo-jin's shoes, promises to be his dog, and even cuts out his own tongue.
  • And Then What?:A central theme of the film: what will Oh Dae-su and Woo-jin do when their goals are achieved? This is something Woo-jin realizes too when Oh Dae-su cuts out his tongue and he orders the box to not be opened. Woo-jin: Now...what will I live for?
  • Alas, Poor Villain:Right before Woo-jin commits suicide, we have a Tear Jerker flashback of when his sister committed suicide. Quentin Tarantino was at the screening and was shocked to find himself crying for a character who had been completely despicable for the prior duration of the movie.
  • Affably Evil: Woo-jin is pretty charming.
  • Always Save the Girl: Oh Dae-su cuts out his own tongue to ensure he can never let Mi-do know that she is his daughter.
  • And I Must Scream: Oh Dae-su's predicament for fifteen years.
    • And then again, after he cuts out his tongue.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Woo-jin gets his revenge, though he shoots himself in the head almost immediately afterwards.
  • Batman Gambit
  • Bound and Gagged
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Woo-Jin and his sister.
  • But for Me It Was Tuesday: An exceedingly rare heroic example: Oh Dae-su accuses Woo-Jin of hypnotizing him to forget that he was the initial cause of events that led to Woo-Jin's sister's suicide. However:
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Lee Woo-Jin: "You weren't drugged. You just forgot. It wasn't important to you."

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