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Oldboy Review Critics


Dave White Profile

2003 is calling. Will you answer? Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 38

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Phillips

    The revenge in Oldboy is neither sweet nor sour; it's just drab.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Graphically gruesome when it means to be a provocative look at vengeance.

    Read Full Review

  • 60

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter John DeFore

    While Lee leaves some of Park's more memorable outrages behind, he and screenwriter Mark Protosevich find one or two ways to up the taboo-testing ante, small surprises that retain the tale's edge without pushing into the realm of exploitation.

    Read Full Review

  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Bruce Ingram

    It’s generally a respectful homage that has every bit as much stylishness and visual flair.

    Read Full Review

  • 91

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    In the end, the most impressive performance may be Spike Lee's. He uses skill without gimmickry, flash without fuss, to tap the mesmerizing soul of this pulp.

    Read Full Review

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Not for kids

Spike Lee's solid, literal remake is extremely violent.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Oldboy is Spike Lee's remake of the extremely violent Korean movie of 2003. This retains the violence and deals with dark, subversive ideas as part of their plots. The character becomes a fighter, and beats up several people (sometimes using a hammer as a weapon). He's stabbed in the back. Characters are tortured, shot, and killed, and commit suicide, and there's an attempted rape. There's a graphic sex scene with female toplessness and male and female backsides shown, plus some other unsavory sexual elements central to the movie's story. Language is also strong, with many uses of "f--k" and "s--t." The main character begins the story as a hardcore alcoholic, though he recovers. Many savvy teens will already be aware of the original film, a much loved cult classic, and the new one does not change much of the basic plot. But many curious teens will want to see this new version, especially if they don't care for subtitles.

  • Families can talk about the movie's extreme violence. What is the mood of it? How does watching it affect you?
  • Why is a movie like this appealing? How does the movie compare to the Korean version? Why do you think Spike Lee chose to remake it?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: The movie is essentially a cruel revenge tale, with bad behavior met by more bad behavior.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: The main character is single-minded and bent on revenge, inflicting great violence on anyone that gets in his way. He does perform one noble deed at the end, but only after it's too late. None of the characters is worth emulating in any way.

What to watch for
  • violence false5

    Violence: The character is abducted and imprisoned for 20 years. He bashes his head against the wall and tries to kill himself. Upon his release he beats up dozens of men, including some innocent bystanders. He bashes people in the head with a hammer, and gets a knife stuck in his back. Characters are tied down and tortured. In a flashback, a father kills his entire family, and himself, with a shotgun. Lots of blood is shown. We also see a bloody suicide. There's an attempted rape.

  • sex false5

    Sex: There's a graphic sex scene with female toplessness and male and female backsides shown. The scene takes on a greater, and more disturbing resonance after the big reveal at the end. Another sex scene is in the dark, but you can hear sounds. The character is shown masturbating under a pillow while watching a workout show on TV. Incest is part of the plot. In an early scene, the character attempts and fails to seduce a woman during a business meeting.

  • language false4

    Language: Language includes several uses of "f--k," "s--t," "bulls--t," "bitch," "dick," and "piss," plus "Jesus H. Christ" and "Goddamn."

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Apple iPhones are shown. Google searches are important to the plot.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false4

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: The main character starts the movie as a hardcore alcoholic, pouring vodka in a paper cup to make it look like he's drinking soda. He's shown raging drunk one night, screaming on the streets and searching for more booze. (He's also shown smoking a cigarette.) During his imprisonment, he's given a bottle of vodka a day, which he guzzles down greedily. Eventually he stops drinking through hard work and persistence. An old friend of his is also a strong drinker, seen with a glass of whisky at all times. Another character is said to be a former drug user, but recovered.