The Korean horror thriller “Old Boy” is full of surprises with the story taking a twist and turns from start to finish. When watching the film for the first time, I had no prior knowledge of the movie and did not know what it was going to be about.
Once the film began, I saw the lead character Oh Dae Su get kidnapped and placed in a makeshift prison where he was kept for an entire 15 years. That plot alone seemed as if it was going to be what the movie was all about since that much time could drive someone crazy. Yet the film does not waste too much time on his imprisonment, you see the transition of his mental state and watch as he trains to fight his own wall. These 15 years are a brief part of the film as the main plot is once he is released from his imprisonment trying to figure out who put him in this prison, and why did they do it? Yet everything gets more complicated when Oh Dae Su meets a young girl he starts staying with and tracks down the man who put him in this prison. He finds out the person who did this to him is in an apartment just across the street from where he is staying. As soon as he confronts the man who locked him away for all those years, he is ready to kill him. Yet as he approaches, the strange man he doesn’t know starts to question him, saying things like doesn’t he want to know some answers? Like who he was? And why he locked him away all those years as torture? The lead character then decided he was going torture him by ripping out his teeth yet was outsmarted again as the man who imprisoned him shows his scar from a pacemaker and reveals he has a kill switch for the device. So now Oh Dae Su is face to face with the man he has been searching for, training to kill, and thinking about for all these years and realizes he can’t kill or hurt him as he would just kill himself so he would have no answers or closure.
This confrontation is what the movie is really about to me, deciding is it more worth it to get that revenge and blood you have been seeking or to know the truth and the answers you have wanted all these years. The stranger then tells Oh Dae Su that if he does not figure out who he is or why he locked him away within 5 days from that day, then he would hurt the girl Oh Dae Su has been staying with and began to love. So he was suddenly faced with that question of is it worth it to kill him right there and to get that revenge and protect the girl he likes or is it more worth it to get the answers he has been seeking. He decided to search for answers and would most likely end up regretting that decision. After a lot of hard work and searching, he realizes that this guy who locked him away for years actually went to the same middle school as Oh Dae Su. Once he found out who this man was, he was still unsure of why he would do this to him. Trying to figure out more information Oh Dae Su calls his friend who also went to his middle school and asked if he knew anything about the guy. His friend remembers that the guy who imprisoned Oh Dae Su had a sister who went to their middle school too but died after she disappeared at the dam. Once Oh Dae Su heard this and traveled back to his old school he started remembering what he had once seen. When Oh Dae Su was in middle school, he saw this other boy (who eventually became his captor) chasing around his sister with his camera into a classroom. Oh Dae Su followed them and then peeked through the window to watch. He saw this brother and sister begin to hook up and waited until he made eye contact with the girl and ran off. As Oh Dae Su recalls all this, he remembers he had told his friend back in middle school about what he had seen and then a rumor started that the sister was a slut.
Oh, Dae Su thinks he has put together the puzzle and goes immediately to confront his captor to inform him that he realizes why he did what he has and who he was. Oh Dae Su finds his kidnapper once more and starts to explain that he knows what happened now. Oh Dae Su tells this man he knows he had sex with his sister and that Oh Dae Su saw them when he was in middle school and that’s how the rumor of her being a slut got started. Oh Dae Su says the rumors got so bad everyone said she was pregnant so he thinks his kidnapper believed it and killed his sister that day at the dam because he didn’t want his sister pregnant with his kid and nephew. After explaining all of this, the kidnapper is just laughing in Oh Dae Su’s face. He describes how he is still wrong and that the rumors got to his sisters head so much that she started to think she was pregnant. Explains he did not kill his sister but loved her, and she actually killed herself as he tried to stop it. He tells Oh Dae Su that his tongue and his rumor is what killed his sister. Finally, though the grand finale of this already crazy messed up story is when the kidnapper shows Oh Dae Su a big purple box and says to open it. Inside he finds a photo album that he opens and begins to see old pictures of him and his old daughter and wife. He has not seen his daughter and wife since he was taken as he saw on the TV while imprisoned that his wife was murdered and he was framed for it so he could not contact his daughter once he was released. Yet as he flips through the pages, he sees pictures of just his daughter, as she is getting older. Then finally photos of that same girl older now with Oh Dae Su, realizing his love that he has now also had sex with has actually been his daughter this entire time and he had no idea. Probably one of the most significant bombshells twists endings out of any movie. He begs for him not to tell his daughter, and his kidnapper is okay with that as he shoots himself shortly after. Oh Dae Su ends this film by shockingly cutting off his tongue then going to get hypnotized to forget the girl he loves sexually is his daughter.
So in the end, once you see all the information, you wonder, was it worth it to find out the truth? Would he have been better off just killing his captor as soon as he had the chance? If he had killed him, he would still have no answers to why a chunk of his life was spent in prison, and he would not realize his love is also his daughter. Is ignorance bliss? Or would the lack of answers drive someone just as crazy?
Written by Wil Prewitt
Photos by Ken Ortiz/Kmov Photography