With the recent success of Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite, the world is finally recognising the brilliance of Korean thrillers. No one does revenge movies better than Koreans – Oldboy, I Saw the Devil and Bong Joon-ho’s Mother to name a few.
In fact, 2003’s Oldboy is the second film in Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy, with Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Lady Vengeance being the other two.
Park Chan-wook officially adapted the story of his masterpiece from Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi’s 8 volume manga, Old Boy.
If you haven’t watched Oldboy or have seen the less impressive English and Indian adaptations, please don’t proceed further. Watch the original in all its glory.
Trust me, you’ll never see the twist coming.
The infamous Oldboy sex scene
One of the greatest Korean actors, Choi Min-sik, played the lead, Oh Dae-su, in 2003’s Oldboy and the world was never the same again.
With the help of a much younger Kang Hye-jung (Mi-do), he sets out to decipher the mystery behind his 15-year imprisonment.
As they get more involved in the investigation, Dae-su and Mi-do eventually develop feelings for each other. One night, in a heat of passion, they end up having sex in a shoddy hotel room.
If you’re familiar with Korean films, you’ll know they don’t hold back in their sex scenes.
Oldboy’s sex scene begins with Mi-do lying on her back while Dae-su prepares to penetrate himself. Lovemaking ensues.
The scene ends with both of them finishing while Mi-do consoles Dae-su by smothering him with kisses.
When I first saw this sex scene, I remember being in a conflicted state of mind.
I was rooting for them but the sex scene seemed a bit… off. It didn’t look well-made and was messy. Something wasn’t right.
After this, the movie jumps back in time to show Dae-su, catching Woo-jin (the captor) having an incestuous moment with his sister, Lee Soo-ah.
Afraid that she might get caught, Lee Soo-ah commits suicide. Thus, giving rise to one of the most elaborate revenge ever planned.
Oldboy’s Oedipus moment
Oedipus the King is one of the most well-known, if not the most well-known, Greek tragedies of all time. If you’ve studied psychology or literature, you know what I’m talking about.
When Woo-jin finally reveals that Mi-do is Dae-su’s daughter, we, just like Dae-su, feel disgusted.
In the original Greek tragedy, Oedipus ended up having sex with his mother. To punish himself for this crime, he ends up blinding himself so as to avoid seeing the world that knows his truth.
Similarly, in Oldboy, Dae-su cuts off his tongue to avoid revealing the truth to anyone.
Woo-jin’s forbidden love for his sister was discovered by Dae-su when they were just teens. Dae-su peeked into the world that didn’t belong to him.
To exact his revenge on Dae-su, Woo-jin involves himself into Dae-su’s world. He records the sex in its entirety and plays it back to Dae-su for him to relive his horror.
When the movie was remade, or shall I say copied, in India as Zinda, they totally skipped the incestuous part. Again, Bollywood missing the point of the story for the nth time.
Even after 17 years, there’s no revenge story that can match the twist of the original Oldboy. The movie is destined to outlive all its remakes.
Till today, whenever someone mentions this movie, they talk about 3 things – the twist, the hallway fight and the Oldboy sex scene.
Fun fact, the hallway scene in Daredevil that we all love, was inspired by Oldboy.
In retrospect, the world would’ve been better if Jamie and Cersei, and Woo-jin and Lee Soo-ah were left alone. Don’t you think?