[[caption-width-right:350: "I'm here to put up shelves and kick ass..."]]

->''"Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep and you weep alone."''

''Oldboy'' is a South Korean movie very loosely based on [[Manga/{{Oldboy}} the Japanese manga of the same name]], and is the second and most well-known installment of [[Creator/ParkChanWook Park Chan-wook's]] Vengeance Trilogy, which begins with ''Film/SympathyForMrVengeance'' and ends with ''Film/SympathyForLadyVengeance''. The film also has several parallels to ''Literature/TheCountOfMonteCristo'', as well as {{Shout Out}}s to ''Theatre/TitusAndronicus''.

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, [[TookALevelInBadass training his fists]] and slowly inching towards his eventual escape.

But 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 Mi-do and one of his old computer-geek friends, No Joo-hwan, 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 [[Film/{{Oldboy2013}} English-language remake]] was released on November 27, 2013, directed by Creator/SpikeLee and starring Creator/JoshBrolin, Elizabeth Olsen, and Sharlto Copley.

'''Since this is a movie that has some major twists and surprises,''' '''''watch out for spoilers.'''''

!!The film provides examples of:

* FiveFiveFive: Averted, as the address - both the street number and PO box - to Dae-su's daughter's foster parents in reality belongs to [[http://www.amaranten.se a hotel in Stockholm]].
* AintTooProudToBeg: Perhaps one of the darkest versions in cinema. [[spoiler: 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 [[TongueTrauma cuts out his own tongue]].]]
* AlasPoorVillain: [[spoiler: Right before Woo-jin commits suicide, we have a {{tearjerker}} flashback of when his sister committed suicide. Creator/QuentinTarantino 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.]]
* AlwaysSaveTheGirl: [[spoiler:Oh Dae-su cuts out his own tongue to ensure he can never let Mi-do know that she is his daughter.]]
* AndIMustScream: Oh Dae-su's predicament for fifteen years.
** And then again, [[spoiler:after he cuts out his tongue.]]
* ArcWords: "Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Weep and you weep alone."
* TheBadGuyWins: [[spoiler:Woo-jin gets his revenge, though he shoots himself in the head almost immediately afterwards.]]
* BatmanGambit
* BerserkButton: Never call Soo-ah a "slut" in front of Woo-jin, as [[spoiler:Joo-hwan]] learns a ''very'' hard way.
* BoundAndGagged
* BrotherSisterIncest: [[spoiler:Woo-jin and his sister]].
* ButForMeItWasTuesday: [[spoiler: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:]]
--> [[spoiler: '''Lee Woo-jin:''' You weren't drugged. You just forgot. It wasn't important to you.]]
* ChekhovsGun: [[spoiler:The angel wings for Dae-su's daughter is mentioned at the beginning of the film by Dae-su himself and later on, appears at the film's climax when Mi-do wears it.]]
* TheChessmaster: Lee Woo-jin. And as the film picks up speed, [[XanatosSpeedChess he gets faster.]]
* CruelTwistEnding: The trope itself isn't a spoiler, as it's par for the course as a Park Chan-Wook film and part of the Vengeance Trilogy.
* CycleOfRevenge
* DisproportionateRetribution: Woo-jin practically IS this trope.
** His reason for locking up Dae-su for ''fifteen years?''
--> '''Woo-jin:''' Oh Dae-su talks too much.
** Somewhat justified, in that [[spoiler:Dae-Su caught Woo-jin having sex with his own sister, then promptly told his friends, who told their friends, etc., all culminating not only in enormous amounts of personal embarrassment for Woo-jin but also in his sister, who he dearly loved, killing herself. Almost everything about his revenge is intended to make Dae-su suffer as he did.]]
* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler:Soo-ah, and later Woo-jin.]]
** There's also the man with the dog that Dae-su meets after his release [[spoiler: who goes through with it anyway]]. Dae-su also tries to kill himself at least twice during his imprisonment, but his captors stop him.
* DropTheHammer
* EnigmaticMinion: Mr. Han, Woo-jin's silent bodyguard. [[spoiler: He gets one line in the whole movie and almost kills Dae-Su before getting shot in the head by his employer.]]
* EvenEvilHasStandards: [[spoiler:Woo-jin tells the prison warden not to reveal the AwfulTruth to Mi-do.]]
* EveryoneWentToSchoolTogether: Dae-su with Joo-hwan, Woo-jin and [[spoiler:his sister, Soo-ah.]]
* EverythingsSquishierWithCephalopods: The live octopus-eating scene.
* EyeScream: Oh Dae-su stabs one of Woo-jin's henchmen in the eye with a broken toothbrush. We don't see anything gory, though.
* FaceDeathWithDignity: Subverted. [[spoiler: Woo-jin takes a hot shower and puts on his best suit before going into the lift to calmly commit suicide. But he cries during his memories about Soo-ah, his deceased sister, before shooting himself.]]
* FauxAffablyEvil: Woo-jin might be pretty charming, but that demeanor actually hides his vengeful self.
* FanDisservice: [[spoiler: The first time audiences see the sex scene between Dae-Su and Mi-do, it's probably tantalizing. Once they're hit with the revelation of Mi-do being his daughter, the scene is much less appealing in retrospect or upon repeated viewings.]]
* {{Fingore}}: Mr. Park defects to Dae-su's side after Woo-jin amputates his hand. [[spoiler: That's the cover story. In reality Park gave his hand up willingly to gain Dae-su's trust.]]
* GainaxEnding: It's hard to tell what's real and what's not after [[spoiler: Woo-jin's suicide.]]
* GambitRoulette: Woo-jin. So much.
* GoMadFromTheRevelation: Dae-su, after learning he has been framed for the murder of his wife.
** And when he finds out that [[spoiler: [[{{Squick}} Mi-do is his daughter]].]]
* GoryDiscretionShot: Two occurances: When Dae-su rips out Mr Park's teeth with the fork of a hammer, [[spoiler: and when he cuts his own tongue out.]]
* HeKnowsTooMuch: Not only was Dae-su locked up by Woo-jin for [[spoiler:spreading the rumors about his sister, Soo-ah, being a slut]], but [[spoiler:he also had his friend, Joo-hwan, who was one of the people responsible for said rumor, killed by Woo-jin.]]
* InformedSelfDiagnosis
* IronicEcho: PlayedForLaughs:
-->'''Oh Dae-Su''': Can the imaginary training of fifteen years be put to use? [successfully defeats several thugs] ''Apparently, it can.''\\
'''Oh Dae-Su''': Can the imaginary training of fifteen years be put to use? [fought off by a helpless young woman] ''No. It can't.''
* JackBauerInterrogationTechnique
* TheJailer: Mr. Han.
* LimitedSpecialCollectorsUltimateEdition: Quite a few different editions for the film have been released, including various limited editions.
* LoveAtFirstSight: Deconstructed. [[spoiler:Oh Dae-su and Mi-do fall in love with each other nearly instantly because they've been hypnotized to do so as part of the villain's plan.]]
* MadeOfIron: Dae-su. The man spends years punching a wall until his joints and calluses make his hands into virtual knuckledusters, but that's the least of it. Stabbed, stomped on, beaten with sticks - it all only serves to make him get up and continue pummeling his way through that hallway.
* ManicPixieDreamGirl: [[spoiler: Subverted. Mi-do appears to be one in the beginning, but it later turns out she has similarly been hypnotized.]]
* MayDecemberRomance: Oh Dae-su is old enough to be Mi-do's father. [[spoiler: In fact, he is her father.]]
* MeaningfulEcho:
-->[[spoiler:'''Suicidal Man/Dae-Su''': ''Even though I'm no better than a beast, don't I have the right to live?]]''\\
[[spoiler:'''Cell Poster/Photo Album''': ''Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep and you weep alone.]]''
* MookChivalry: DoubleSubverted, Cheol-woong gang initially fights Oh Dae-su together is a group. The problem the face is that [[{{Determinator}} he just won't stay down.]] The more they throw themselves at him, the more he bashes their heads in with his hammer. Eventually, they become so tired and beaten down, they become reluctant to actually fighting him ,leading to them fighting him one at a time.
* MutilationInterrogation: Oh Dae-su tracks down the illegal holding facility where he was kept for 15 years after being kidnapped off the streets. Dae-su asks the warden who paid him to hold him, and when the warden doesn't answer he duct tapes him to his chair. He then uses his claw hammer to pry out the man's teeth one at a time, telling him that he owes him one tooth for each year of his life that was stolen from him. After about 7 or so, he gives the warden a chance to talk, with the implication that he'll continue through with all 15 if he doesn't.
* NearRapeExperience: Interestingly, PlayedForLaughs.
* NoAnimalsWereHarmed: Very Averted. Four real octopuses were used for the eating scene. (Choi Min-sik, a Buddhist in real life, gave a prayer before eating each one.)
* TheOner: A number of them throughout the film, the most well-known of them being a lengthy scene in which Oh Dae-su takes on over a dozen men armed with just a hammer.
* ParentalIncest: [[spoiler:Dae-su unknowingly has sex with his daughter.]]
* PayEvilUntoEvil: Dae-su's torture of Mr. Park, though he tortures him only for information on why he was imprisoned.
* PsychologicalHorror
* PunchAWall: A large part of Oh Dae-su's self-training.
* TheReveal: [[spoiler:Mi-do is Oh Dae-su's daughter.]]
* ShaggyDogStory: [[spoiler: Dae-su never gets his revenge, and Lee Woo-jin kills himself after getting ''his'' revenge.]]
** Park Chan-wook points out on the commentary how many of Dae-su's efforts ultimately turn out to be pointless; for example, just before Dae-su manages to escape via the hole he has carved in his wall, he is released by his captors.
* ShoutOut: To ''Theatre/TitusAndronicus'' including the scene [[spoiler:with the tongue, and the father-daughter incest]].
** A reference to ''Literature/TheCountOfMonteCristo'' is also made early on.
** The prison Dae-su was locked in is located on the [[Film/BeingJohnMalkovich seven and a half floor]] of a building.
* SoundtrackDissonance: Vivaldi's ''Winter'' plays while Oh Dae-su rips Mr Park's teeth out.
* SuicideNotMurder: [[spoiler:Double subverted; It looks like Soo-ah committed suicide after the rumors start circulating, but when Dae-su is at Woo-jin's penthouse, he finds a picture of her taken at the dam where she died and it's implied that Woo-jin killed her to cover up their incestuous relationship during her phantom pregnancy, making it look like a suicide. In the end it's revealed that Woo-jin was trying to ''stop'' Soo-ah from committing suicide but she convinced him to let go of her.]]
* [[spoiler: SurpriseIncest: Mi-do is Dae-su's daughter, and he only finds out after they had sex.]]
* TokenRomance: An irrelevant subplot which is subverted in the case of Oh Dae-su and Mi-do, since [[spoiler: it's part of the villain's revenge scheme.]]
* TookALevelInBadass: This one is deconstructed too. Fifteen years in a private prison have turned Dae-su into a fearless killing machine, but all of this seems to fit into the villain's plan.
* TheToothHurts: The tooth-pulling scene.
* TraumaCongaLine: The ending is this in trumps: [[spoiler:Dae-Su learns that, by gossiping about their incestuous relationship, he indirectly caused Woo-Jin's sister to commit suicide; Woo-Jin reveals Mi-Do is Dae-Su's daughter, and they had sex because he orchestrated it; Dae-Su is pummelled by Mr. Han for trying to kill Woo-Jin; Dae-Su cuts his tongue out to desperately stop Woo-Jin telling Mi-Do; Woo-Jin commits suicide, denying Dae-Su his revenge; and finally, Dae-Su gets re-hypnotized to forget everything, though it's unclear if it works, and he's last seen still with Mi-Do.]]
* {{Ubermensch}}: Oh Dae-su takes on many aspects of an Ubermensch during his imprisonment. [[spoiler: Ultimately his character is a massive subversion. Everything he does has been accounted for. He has no control of his own fate and plays into his Lee Woo-jin hands. By the end of the movie he is a very, very broken man.]]
* [[UglyGuyHotWife Ugly Guy Hot Girlfriend]]: Oh Dae-su and Mi-do. [[spoiler:Justified since Woo-jin hypnotized them into falling in love with each other.]]
* UnwittingPawn: [[spoiler:Mi-do, and to a lesser extent Oh Dae-Su.]]
* VengeanceFeelsEmpty: This is, rather explicitly, the entire point of the film. [[spoiler:After destroying Dae-Su, Woo-jin states he has nothing to live for now he has his vengeance. He briefly feels joy over exacting his revenge but moments later he returns to being an empty shell mourning the loss of his sister. So after successfully completing his massive, 15 year BatmanGambit, Cue Woo-jin blows his brains out in the elevator.]]
%%* VictoryIsBoring: See VengeanceFeelsEmpty.
* VillainousBreakdown: [[spoiler:Woo-jin before his suicide.]]
* WhatTheHellHero: [[spoiler:Regardless of if it was unintentional, Oh Dae-Su drove a pregnant Soo-ah to suicide by gossiping about her incestuous relationship with her brother.]]
** She wasn't actually pregnant, she was suffering from a false pregnancy, or psuedocyesis.
* WhenAllYouHaveIsAHammer