Screened as part of NZIFF 2004

Old Boy 2003


Directed by Park Chan-wook

Korea In Korean with English subtitles
119 minutes CinemaScope



Hwang Jo-yun, Lim Jun-hyung, Park Chan-wook. Based on an original story by Tsuchiya Garon and Minegishi Nobuaki


Chung Chung-hoon


Kim Sang-bum


Shim Hyun-jung
Lee Ji-soo
Cho Young-wuk


Choi Min-sik
Yoo Ji-tae
Gang Hye-jung


Cannes (In Competition) 2004


Winner, Grand Jury Prize, Cannes 2004


The most shocking thing about this tour de force is that it only won the Grand Prix at Cannes and not the Palme d’Or as well. The head judge was Tarantino and if a contemporary film exists more suited to his personal tastes, I’d like to see it. The diabolically talented Korean writer-director Park Chan-wook is simply working on a higher tier than his contemporaries. He effortlessly glided from the blockbuster Joint Security Area to the drama/comedy/thriller hybrid Sympathy For Mr Vengeance, to this sucker-punch of a film that in the future will occupy the same impressive shelf as other highly influential mystery/thrillers, such as Chinatown. Without giving away too much of this gripping who- (what- why-) dunit, a cantankerous businessman (Choi Min-sik) is kidnapped and kept in an ordinary locked room, leaving behind a wife and young daughter. For fifteen years he’s incarcerated in this room for no logical reason. He is fed fried dumplings and is allowed to watch television. He works out. He gets bored. He gets angry. He gets a little crazy. He swears and plans revenge on his unknown captors. Why is he here? Why would he/she/them spend so much time and money to keep him imprisoned? And just when he’s about to engineer his freedom, the door simply opens and he’s unceremoniously dumped out on the street. From this apparently straightforward opening, Old Boy becomes one of the most brilliant, ferocious, ingenious, exciting and breathtaking films you will see this year. A word of caution, this is one Old Boy who doesn’t pull his punches; sensitive types are advised to seek their light entertainment elsewhere. —  Ant Timpson