Oldboy [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (5th March 2023).
The Film

"Oldboy" <올드보이> (2003)

After a night of heavy drinking Oh Dae-su (played by Choi Min-sik) finds himself locked up in a mysterious prisonlike complex with no contact with the outside world. He is locked in solitary confinement for fifteen years without explanation, and during this time he looks at ways to escape, whether it be suicide attempts or by carving out bricks from the walls with metal chopsticks. Readying for revenge by keeping himself in shape and finding out who placed him in the room, he suddenly finds himself outside when waking up one day, dressed in a nice suit, an expensive watch, plus his only belongings which were his journals. The question is not why he was locked up for so long, but why was he suddenly set free?

"Oldboy" was a manga written by Marley Caribu AKA Yuho Hijikata AKA marginal AKA Dark Master...and about a dozen other pseudonyms, though for this particular title he went under the name Garon Tsuchiya. The manga was published in Weekly Manga Action from 1996 to 1998 and was later compiled into eight volumes, but was not particularly a major work or a big seller in his native Japan. For this slightly obscure manga to be adapted into a South Korean film a few years later was quite an unusual and daring concept, as it dealth with a major time of change in relations for the two nations with tense historical relations.

From colonial rule in the early twentieth century, the iron fisted rule of the entire Korean peninsula by the Japanese during World War II, racial tensions between Koreans and Japanese would not calm down in the coming decades, whether it was from the governments or with trade in the economic circles. In the entertaiment world, movies, books, music were not imported or exported between the countries, and culturally they existed without direct influence in popular culture. In the mid 1990s, the Japanese and South Korean governments looked toward creating better relations, and a part of the major campaign came with their bid to host the 2002 World Cup jointly. With FIFA's announced in that Japan and South Korea would jointly hold the event, this created a wonderful new bridge of cultures to cross over in terms of entertainment, technology, food, tourism, and more. This saw the rise in popularity of Korean dramas being televised on Japanese television, Japanese films receiving theatrical releases in South Korea, translations of manga, exchanges in music, and much more. By the time the World Cup rolled around, Korean culture was all across Japan and Japanese culture was becoming acceptable and cool in South Korea. But one area that South Korea hadn't quite conquered was in film. While the coutry has had a rich amount of talent and masterpieces created, their film industry was not close to anything that Japan had produced with studios like Toho and Shochiku, with decades of works that received high praise and acclaim including global respect, including both live action and anime works. South Korea had a number of films that entered film festivals with arthouse works, but homegrown audience favorites were basically not for export. That all changed with "Oldboy".

The translated manga was adapted for screen by writers Hwang Jo-yun, Lim Jun-hyung, and filmmaker Park Chan-wook. This would be the first official Japanese manga to be adapted as a South Korean film, and it certainly was an interesting choice. The manga was not a major crowdpleaser and was not very well known in either country, but the themes of vengeance and mystery truly intrigued Park, who had just directed "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" (2002), a story of class struggles and a kidnapping that ultimately received mixed reviews and was not a box office success, especially in comparison to the director's crowdpleasing 2000 film "JSA". There were significant changes made to the adaptation with "Oldboy". Not only was the setting changed from Japan to South Korea, but the timeframe was changed from imprisonment for ten years to fifteen years, and the main character's exit would take place in 2003 rather than in the 1990s setting. In addition, the manga took its time over months and years with the main character trying to reintegrate into society while the film set a time limit of five days for the main character to figure out the mystery. Technology with cellphones and the internet would be prevalent in the film, and character relations including the shocking ending would be drastically changed. In the end there may or may not have been about fifty percent being changed, but was enough to say it was an adaptation rather than an original work.

The story surrounds the character of Oh Dae-su who is introduced as a typcial drunkard businessman who probably doesn't devote a lot of time to his wife and young child. He is immediately shown as unlikeable, but when it is shown that he is placed in a room where he learns through television that his wife had been murdered and he is missing and a prime suspect, sympathy does come from the audience. He must endure the pain of not being able to do anything, has tried to kill himself multiple times, and yet at times he tries to keep some sort of sanity. His boxing routines against the wall, his determination of escaping, and one day hoping to find his daughter are what keeps him sane - or at least partially sane. Choi Min-sik does an excellent job tranforming the character during the many years the events take place in a short running time, and it is not just the emotional output but his physical strength as well. During his quest to find who imprisoned him, his first meal would be something other than fried dumplings, as they were the only meal he had for fifteen years. At a Japanese restaurant is where he meets the young female chef Mi-do (played by Kang Hye-jung), who helps him after he faints from eating raw, or should we say live octopus. She learns about his captivity and becomes quite fascinated with his quest to find the truth. While she tries to get close, Dae-su is equally enamored as it is the first time in so many years that a woman has taken interest in him, while also cautious that she may be someone not to be trusted. Kang's performance is also excellent, as she gives a natural performance of wonder and mystery.

One aspect that set "Oldboy" apart was its action and violence. One of the major highlights of the film is when Dae-su discovers the building and the secret floor on which he was imprisoned, where he goes on a violent rampage with only a hammer as a weapon. Pulling out the teeth of the leader of the private prison (played by Oh Dal-su) in order to receive answers on who imprisoned him and an incredible one shot one take of a hallway fight sequence with Dae-su taking on about twenty thugs alone. While the images were not completely gory on screen, the sequence was excellent in showing violence without fully showing the details. it is after the raid sequence that Dae-su unknowingly encounters the man who was behind the imprisonment, Lee Woo-jin (played by Yoo Ji-tae). It is difficult to discuss about the character further without turning to spoilers, and since this is a film that is twenty years old and has been seen by the masses, please beware of the below spoilers.

Even when Dae-su and Woo-jin have their first confrontation, Dae-su is not at all sure who the man is and why he would have organized such lengthy torture and ruining his life. A hypnosis element was added by Park and the screenwriters that made Dae-su lose some of the distinct memories about him and Woo-jin from their days in high school, as well as having the hypnosis element play multiple parts in the manipulation of characters. In the eyes of reality, it may seem like what the incredibly wealthy Woo-jin had organized was much too much. He paid for the kidnapping of Dae-su and his private imprisonment for a full fifteen years. His plan for revenge would not only be a monetary issue, but also logistical with the hypnosis element by the hypnotist (played by Lee Seung-shin) and for her to have both Dae-su and Mi-do be manipulated to the point of their relationship being strengthened to the point of love is quite a task. But seeing that he is independently wealthy, without family or close friends, he probably sees his plan for vengeance as an artistic piece. From the intricate box that the two receive that could change their lives forever to the calculated planning off all the events that happen within Dae-su's five days out of confinement, there are multiple similarities between his character and the John Doe character in "Se7en", which also was filled with manipulation and also included a mysterious box, along with a character that was willing to put everything on the line. Yoo Ji-tae's performance of Woo-jin was an interesting choice, as he had the heartthrob look yet he was playing what could be considered the villain of the show. Taking cues from "American Psycho" where he would have perfect smiles and a perfect body, he may seem a bit too young to be playing a character only about two years younger than Oh Dae-su, but it also shows the class differences in South Korea as well. Plastic surgery and body care are common regards for the rich, as they try to keep their youthful looks as long as possible. He plays the character with grace, yet with menacing strength in a silent form.

There is another connection to "Se7en" and that is the look of the film. The dark tones, the vibrant colors, and using the bleach bypass process are an homage to the film directed by David Fincher and lensed by Darius Khondji. "Oldboy" cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon stated that he was looking to mimic the "Darius Khondji look" and this meant increasing vibrancy to certain colors to give sequences a distinct look and feel. Green hues as seen in the prison and around Oh Dae-su are supposed to mimic a grotesque and sickly feel. Purples are around when Lee Woo-jin enters, whether it be the rooms or the mentioned boxes. But this also collides in the penthouse sequence as the greens blend into the room to show that the monster is not just Oh Dae-su, but also Lee Woo-jin, as they have become two sides of the same coin in the final confrontation. As for Mi-do, she is represented with red. From her wardrobe to her surroundings, it is the color of love as well as blood. The lighting of scenes and the colors shown are against backdrops of scenes as well as in wardrobes, giving subconscious hints to the audience all the way through and also give better hints to what is to come for repeated viewings. The blending of colors from scene to scene, the stylized lighting with filters and set designs and warddrobe that used intricate patterns throughout were also detailed portions of the visuals. A lot of care was taken for the look of the feature and the work did not go unnoticed.

In addition to "Se7en", there are a huge number of films that "Oldboy" makes references to. Oh Dae-su sees a clip of "The Bride of Frankenstein" on television while in the cell and the creation of the green monster (though the original film is in black and white) are apparent, as well as the monster's desire to love. There are also movie posters on Mi-do's wall, with "King Kong" which has the "Beauty and the Beast" theme, and "Wings of Desire" with the reference to the angel wings that make appearances in the beginning and near the end. The music was also a key to the film homages, as the compositions by Jo Yeong-wook were each named after film titles. "Cries and Whispers", "Look Back in Anger", "Dressed to Kill", "Out of the Past", and "The Last Waltz" are just a few of the referenced names, and are fitting with the scenes that they accompany. From pulsating and electric from the opening scene to the tranquil and classical ending, the score is varied in styles yet extremely fitting with the sequences and includes a number of very memorable cues.

The film was released theatrical in South Korea on November 21st, 2003 and became the fifth highest grossing Korean film on the year. It was certainly a surprise that a Japanese based work would hit well with South Korean audiences, the visceral and shocking content along with a mystery and action captivated home audiences and became a cultural phenomenon. But the biggest surprise was the film's entry into the Cannes Film Festival half a year later in May 2004, where it won the Grand Prix. It won multiple awards in its home country at the Grand Bell Awards and the Korean Film Awards, as well as internationally. It was not without controversy, as there were some scathing and even blatantly racist remarks from critics with the content, with some blasting the violence and cruelty, especially with the live octopus eating scene. For English speaking audiences, they would have to wait until late 2004 for a British release and 2005 for an American release, but there was an alternative with the official South Korean 2-disc DVD with English subtitles being released the same month as its Cannes premiere, leading to a number of importers experiencing the film quicker than their domestic theatrical releases. With online forums and message boards, it truly was a time that led to importing movies that were not yet available elsewhere, and increased the hype of the film. In Japan the film was released on November 6th, 2004, almost a year after its South Korean release. While it was a fair hit, the film did not have the same appeal as the trendy and joyous Korean television dramas, and most people didn't know the original manga it was based on. Usually when a manga or anime is adapted into a live-action feature there is a huge backlash over changes and its execution, but there was basically none to be heard for "Oldboy". Not because it was faithful to the source (as it certainly wasn't), but it was the relative obscurity of the manga. Even in English, the manga would not get an official translation until 2006 by Dark Horse Comics.

The film became the first major success for a South Korean film to break into the international market. Audiences were looking for more, and that also led to interest in the new movement of South Korean cinema. "Memories of Murder", "A Tale of Two Sisters", and "Silmido" from the same year also received international attention, as well as Park's previous film "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" finding a new audience overseas where it had a much better response. It was during this time in the early 2000s that Asian cinema with harder content was receiving added attention from overseas markets, with the UK distributor Tartan labeling them as "Asia Extreme" and releasing them under the banner for theatrical and home video releases. Park's films were a significant reason that South Korean features would look at producing features that would have international appeal, and that led to a number of horror, thriller, and other films that were touched by the "Oldboy" magic. "A Bittersweet Life" (2005), "The Chaser" (2008), "I Saw the Devil" (2010) and others are greatly indebted to the film, and Park would continue and conclude a trilogy of vengeance films with "Lady Vengeance" in 2005. It also opened doors to comedies and other genres to cross into the international mainstream, and in 2020, "Parasite" made Oscars history as the first non-English language feature to receive the Best Picture award. And like "Oldboy" there was a lot to be shared, with the themes of family relations, class struggles, vengeance, shocking content, as well as a man living in solitary confinement if that is a spoiler. "Oldboy" received a Hollywood remake with director Spike Lee directing. The English language "Oldboy" from 2013 was negatively received by critics and audiences and over the years hasn't received a re-evaluation. This may be due to the film having been truncated by producers, with more than 30 minutes removed from the original director's cut. Lee's original cut has not been released as of yet. But even with the remake and the major differences made from the original manga, the 2003 feature still stands strong in style, execution, and a memorable experience from the cast and crew. It's influence is undeniable, and still continues to shock new audiences to this day.

In 2016, the film was remastered in 4K resolution and given new Blu-ray and 4K UltraHD releases over the next few years around the world. The 4K restoration transfer finally made its way to Australia from Umbrella Entertainment, making the film's HD debut in the country.

Note this is a region ALL Blu-ray


Umbrella Entertainment presents the film in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio in 1080p AVC MPEG-4. The transfer comes from a 2016 4K restoration of the film. Even though "Oldboy" was produced with distinct and vibrant colors, it seemed like each and every home video release on DVD and Blu-ray in the past had completely different color timings. Just looking at DVDBeaver's comparisons of past DVD releases shows an incredible difference in green hues and dark blacks, as well as the vibrancy of reds. The shades of green, purple, and red are of importance to the characters and their reflections, and the old home video releases seemed to mess around with the colors quite a bit. The older Blu-ray transfer also had these issues, with flat looking brighter colors and even some damage marks to be found. For the 4K restoration which was underseen by Park and cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon, the intended vibrancy and darkness has been corrected, as well as giving a cleanup to the image. Colors look sharp and distinct, dark portions and light portions are well reproduced, and there are no instances of artifacts or damage while still keeping the original film grain. To note, even the 4K restoration transfers found on various Blu-rays and UHDs that have been released around the world have had some slight differences in colors, but nothing as drastic as the DVD days. Looking at comparisons found on Caps-A-Holic, this Umbrella Entertainment Blu-ray looks the closest to the UK Arrow Video release, with its rich colors. But which is the closest to the director's intentions? One would think it was the South Korean remastered Blu-ray which was the first to be released with the restoration transfer, but the UK release which has a darker transfer states to be supervised by the director. The Australian release certainly looks incredible and is a pleasing transfer.

The film's runtime is 120:00.


Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Korean DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo

There are both lossless 5.1 and 2.0 stereo options available. The film's sound fully takes advantage of the 5.1 soundscape as the music and effects utilize the separate channels, with score tracks being loud and full, while still being well balanced against the dialogue and effects. Dialogue is almost entirely centered and is always clear and easy to hear, whether in character conversations or in narration by the character of Oh Dae-su. There are no issues of damage or dropout, with clean and clear audio throughout. The stereo mix is a fine downmix for audiences without a home theater setup, but the 5.1 is truly the way to go if possible.

There are burned-in English subtitles for the main feature in a white font. This is a bit unfortunate that they are non-removable, though they are clear and easy to read and without errors. The font size is a bit smaller in comparison to other Umbrella Blu-ray titles. The translation seems to be what Tartan UK used many years ago, as it has anglicized spelling with "neighbour" and "arsehole", and also using the term "fucktard" as the "new curse word" that Oh Dae-su learns from the young people he gets into a small brawl with. For the remastered Arrow UK release, the "new curse word" was re-translated as "Dickshit".


Audio commentary with filmmakers Aaron McCann & Dominic Pearce
This newly recorded commentary features the directors of “Top Knot Detective” on the microphone. The two talk about the stylized look of the film with the various color motifs, the slightly dated CGI, behind the scenes stories, the characters and their motivations, their personal recollection viewing the film for the first time nearly twenty years ago, and more. There is a lot of laughter and banter between them, and they do apologize for their butchering of Korean names, though they do try to keep things interesting. There are some missed points though, as a lot of their information comes from places such as the other commentaries and featurettes found on the disc, and they don’t go much into how much the film went on to boost South Korean cinema and the influence it had with more examples. They do mention “I Saw the Devil” a few times and they make only one reference to the 2013 Hollywood remake existing, it would have been more interesting to hear something a bit more scholarly. In addition, they seem to completely miss that the character of Joo-hwan is the character at the beginning of the film that helps Oh Dae-su get released from the police station. They also mention that the prison being on the 7 ½ floor is a reference to “Being John Malkovich”, but this is actually not true as it came from the original manga which predated the film. This was pure coincidence, as the makers of “Being John Malkovich” did not reference the manga, which was translated into English after the success of the Korean film adaptation.
in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

Audio commentary with director Park Chan-wook
In this solo commentary track, Park gives scene specific background of the film with lots of interesting information. He talks about the lighting and color palate, the various references to other films, choices that were changed during production, information on the characters and their motivations, the ambiguous ending, changes made for the television version, and much more. As the film’s subtitles are burned-in to the bottom of the image, the commentary subtitles appear at the top of the frame.
in Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English subtitles

Audio commentary with director Park Chan-wook and cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon
In this duo commentary, Park and Chung look more specifically at the visual style and look of the film, with visual references to “Se7en” and the Darius Khondji look, the bold greens and purples and many techniques the film featured. Like the commentary above, the optional subtitles appear at the top of the frame. The menu states the cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon’s name is Jung Jung-hoon, though this is not particularly a mistake. The Korean language doesn’t have a fully standardized process of transcribing with the Roman alphabet and there are discrepancies to be found with many names. He’s sometimes also been credited as Jeong Jeong-hoon. The opening film credits has “Chung-hoon Chung” (with the western convention of given name/family name order) and that is how he has been credited on-screen for his English language works. Though for consistency with Korean naming conventions of family name/given name, I’ve spelled his name in the Korean order like the rest of the cast and crew as Chung Chung-hoon.
in Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English subtitles

Audio commentary with director Park Chan-wook and actors Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae and Kang Hye-jung
In this group commentary, Park and the three main performers give a fun chat about their characters and their motivations, their methods, and recollections of the shoot. Like the other Korean language commentaries, the subtitles appear at the top of the frame.
in Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English subtitles

Interviews with Cast & Crew (63:57)
- Park Chan-wook & Mark Salisbury
- Park Chan-wook
- Garon Tsuchiya
- Choi Min-sik
- Yoo Ji-tae
- Kang Hye-jung
- Yoon Jin-seo
- Chi Dae-han
- Kim Byeong-ok
- Oh Dai-su
- Oh Kwang-rok
- Lee Seung-shin

Presented here are a series of interviews with the director, the manga creator, and the cast. The first interview has Park sitting together with interpreter Keith Nam, with critic Mark Salisbury interviewing the director off-screen. Discussed are about Park’s attraction to vengeance stories, the state of South Korean cinema, the hallway scene, the octopus scene, and more. The questions are prompted as intertitles, with Park’s answers in Korean without subtitles and immediately translated into English by the interpreter. This first interview is in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, while the rest are in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio. This interview was originally made in 2005 for the UK Tartan Video DVD release. The second interview with the director was done at a theater a day before he was to leave and go to Cannes to promote the film in 2004, as he takes audience questions about his influences, the comparison between “Oldboy” and “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance”, and more. This interview is in Korean with optional English subtitles. The next interview is with manga creator Garon Tsuchiya, which is an audio interview done over the phone. He discusses the original manga along with positive remarks about the film adaptation. The interview has stills of Tsuchiya, panels of the manga, and some clips of the film. It is in Japanese with burned-in Korean subtitles and optional English subtitles. The rest of the interviews with the cast are in Korean with optional English subtitles. With the cast interviews, they are done after production wrapped, with each discussing their roles, some interesting facts about how they prepared for the roles, the difficult segments, and more. These interviews are presented in a single title without a submenu, though chapter stops are provided between each interview.
in 1080p 30fps AVC MPEG-4, in 1.78:1 / 1.33:1, in English/Korean/Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English subtitles

"Behind the Scenes" featurettes (113:50)
- The Cast and Crew Remembers
- Production Design
- The Music Score
- Le Grand Prix at Cannes
- Flashback (Making Of Documentary Part 2)
- Audition
- Reading
- Hunting
- Losing 15kg
- Locust Position
- Princess of Sashimi

Presented here are a series of behind the scenes featurettes. The first part has interviews with the cast and crew discussing the film after completion, from the adaptation of the manga, the casting choices, the color choices, the epilogue shoot in New Zealand and more. The production design featurette looks at the hair styles, clothes, sets, the various design patterns of the wallpaper and boxes, etc. The CGI featurette shows before and after examples of the ant scene, the knife in the back, as well as color correction choices in the flashback segment. The music score featurette looks at the music cues, their homage titles, and the themes they represent. “Le Grand Prix at Cannes” features interviews with the cast and crew discussing their trip to Cannes to promote the film internationally, and also includes clips from their trip and the successful screening. “Flashback (Making Of Documentary Part 2)” is a behind-the-scenes and interviews featurette that looks at the differing characters through the eyes of Korean fan club members as well as stories on some of the more difficult scenes to shoot. The audition featurette shows the casting choice made for the Mi-do character. The reading featurette shows clips from a tableread of the script with the cast and crew. Hunting is a location scouting featurette. Losing 15kg shows Choi in the gym to prepare for his character by losing weight and gaining muscle. The Locust Position featurette features Yoo practicing yoga in order to show the character doing the seemingly impossible “locust” position in the film. Lastly, Princess of Sashimi has Kang training at a sushi restaurant for her character. All of these featurettes are presented in a single title without a submenu to access each, though there are chapter stops for most of the featurettes. But one major issue is the order in which these featurettes play. They really should have played these clips in chronological order, but instead we get the production and post production featurettes first, and later the audition and preparation featurettes. In addition there are some inconsistencies with the subtitles regarding names of the cast and crew and for the characters, depending on the featurette.
in 1080p 30fps AVC MPEG-4, in 1.33:1, in Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English subtitles

Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary by director Park Chan-wook) (24:29)
- "Oh Dae-su"
- "Day One"
- "Japanese Restaurant"
- "Fight with the Guards"
- "Kiss"
- "The Lovers 1"
- "The Lovers 2"
- "Woo-jin's Preparation"
- "The Remaining Plot"
- "Tube Station: Reflection"

Ten deleted scenes are included here. The first is an extended scene at the police station. “Day One” is additional shots of Oh Dae-su’s first day in captive life. “Japanese Restaurant” has some additional shots before Oh Dae-su enters the place. “Fight with the Guards” has alternate shakycam footage of the central fight sequence. The “Kiss” scene is what was shot for the television version in place of the sex scene in the theatrical cut. The two “Lovers” scenes are extended and alternate post-coital scenes with the hairdryer. The “Preparation” scene has Woo-jin giving prep talk to himself in the mirror. The final two scenes have added scenes with Woo-jin and the hypnotist. The optional commentary, which is in Korean with optional English subtitles, has Park discussing these deleted scenes with context as to their filming, such as the improvised lines at the police station. Park interestingly states that giving commentary is a difficult task for a director, yet somehow he’s been able to contribute three full commentaries for this single film plus the deleted scenes. The scenes are incomplete, so music, effects, and finished dialogue are missing for the sequences. They are bookended with scenes from the completed film to show where the scene would have taken place. The image is slightly windowboxed and includes timecode and text markers above and below the frame.
in 1080p AVC MPEG-4, in 2.35:1, in Korean Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English subtitles

"Bring My Love" music video by Starsailor (2:43)
Taken from the English band Starsailor’s second album “Silence Is Easy”, here is a music video that is made entirely from clips of the film. Taken from a standard definition source and upscaled, it is presented windowboxed with black bars on all four sides.
in 1080p 30fps AVC MPEG-4, in windowboxed 2.35:1, in English Dolby Digital 2.0 without subtitles

Trailers (4:06)
Three original South Korean theatrical trailers are presented here. Interestingly, the first is in standard 2.35:1, the second is windowboxed 2.35:1, and the third is in 1.66:1. The first is presented in 24fps while the second and third are in 30fps. The first has 5.1 audio with optional English subtitles while the second and third are without subtitles. Even with all these differences, they are all included as one title and separated with chapter stops.
in 1080p 24fps / 30fps AVC MPEG-4, in 2.35:1 / 1.66:1, in Korean Dolby Digital 5.1 / 2.0 with optional English subtitles

While this release may seem packed with extras, there is also a lot of significant extras missing. "Oldboy" might hold the record as the film with the most commentary tracks recorded for home video. In addition to the three Korean language commentaries listed above, the South Korean "Ultimate Edition" DVD also included two more commentaries - one by film critic and film professor Kim Yeong-jin (who in 2021 became the chairman of the Korean Film Council) and the other by American critic Harry Knowles of Ain't It Cool News (remember that site?). All five of these commentaries were then ported to the South Korean remastered Blu-ray from 2016, which also added a sixth commentary by film critic Shin Hyung-chul. The Korean critics commentaries were originally scheduled to be ported to the Arrow UK Blu-ray release, but they were cancelled at the last minute in which they created a new English language commentary with critics Jasper Sharp and Simon Ward. Due to Knowles' #MeToo controversies in recent times it was probably wise not to have his commentary track carried over. In total that makes eight commentary tracks for "Oldboy" to date.

Two of the biggest misses are the two lengthy documentaries. "Autobiography of Oldboy" was a 210 minute documentary that chronologically compiled the on set film diaries and originally included on some of the previous DVD and Blu-ray releases. From the fun behind the scenes happenings to accidents in stuntwork and real injuries as well as lost luggage by Singapore Airlines, the documentary is a raw look at the production process, without narration or retrospective interviews. As simple as it is with chronologically editing the raw footage together, it's an excellent look at the hard production, with even some cameos from actors like Lee Byung-hun and Song Kang-ho who visited the sets. The other major exclusion is "Old Days" the 111-minute 2016 retrospective documentary that features interviews with the cast and crew revisiting the film more than a decade after its release. There were a few other pieces missing, such as a diector's introduction and some featurettes and interviews found on the South Korean Blu-ray and also the UK Arrow release also including a lengthy interview with critic Tony Rayns on the film and Park's career.

A clip from the film, from Umbrella Entertainment


Unfortunately Umbrella Entertainment discontinued their "World Cinema" line of Blu-rays last year, so this release is not part of that series. Though it would have been a worthy inclusion.

The first pressing of 1500 comes with a limited edition slipcase and J-card with alternate artwork. The limited number is printed on the J-card. The disc is packaged in a standard clear keep case. Though the packaging states "Region B" it is in fact region ALL.

In addition there is a Collector's Edition limited to 200 copies exclusively available at Umbrella Shop, which also includes a PAL VHS cassette of the film, a "You Weep Alone" A3 reversible poster featuring James Ensor's "Man of Sorrows" artwork as featured in the film, and 8 lobby cards. The VHS cassette is packaged in a clear clamshell case with exclusive artwork and Umbrella Entertainment stickers. The limited number is a sticker on the clamshell case. I currently do not have a VHS player and cannot check its transfer, though the runtimes listed on the inlay is 120 minutes, which seems incorrect as the VHS would be in the PAL format, which would play 4% faster and have a slightly shorter runtime. I recently got a Laserdisc Player as shown in the linked article, and I'm not planning to get a multisystem VCR anytime soon, though I admit I looked around at some prices for used units here and there. The double sided poster has the same purple themed cover as the keep case on one side and the Ensor painting on the other side with Korean inscription on the bottom as it was in the film. The eight lobby cards are 21cm x 15cm in size and feature various scenes and characters from the film.


"Oldboy" is one of the more important South Korean films of all time, with its shocking yet entertaining filmmaking grabbing audiences and not letting go. Twenty years later, the film still stands high as a mystery thriller and is truly unforgettable. The Umbrella Entertainment Blu-ray features a great transfer in audio and video and a number of excellent extras, though note that there is the issue of non-removable subtitles and a few notable extras not being included. Still comes as recommended.

The Film: A Video: A Audio: A Extras: B+ Overall: A-


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