Oldboy Is Returning To Theaters For Its 20th Anniversary

Revenge is a dish best served cold, so it's fitting that Park Chan Wook's action revenge film "Oldboy" is getting another theatrical run to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The South Korean masterpiece tells the tale of Oh Dae-Su (Choi Min-sik), a man who was kidnapped and held captive for 15 years in a tiny apartment with no knowledge of why he was captured. When he's finally released, he has only five days to try and find the architect of his misery and get his revenge for fifteen years of imprisonment. It's wild stuff that only gets weirder as the story progresses, with action sequences that have become the stuff of cinema legend. Seriously, the hallway fight is one of the greatest scenes ever committed to celluloid, and the entire climax is a masterclass in tension. The movie didn't get a wide theatrical release in the U.S., so for many fans, this will be their first chance to see Oh Dae-Su kick butts on the big screen. 

According to Variety, Neon landed the U.S. distribution rights to the film and will bring the movie back to theaters for the 20th anniversary sometime in 2023, though an exact date has not yet been revealed. 

A feast for the senses

"Oldboy" had a limited run in the U.S. in November of 2003, where it didn't make a huge box office but did earn a lot of love from critics, who praised the dark thriller for its visuals, performances, and unconventional storytelling. Along with Choi, Yoo Ji-tae stars as the villainous Lee Woo-jin, and Kang Hye-jung stars as Mi-do, a young woman who works at a sushi bar and begins a complicated relationship with Dae-Su. "Oldboy" is a ballet of violence, a classic Greek tragedy for the 21st century that forces viewers to think about a lot more than just hallway hammer fights. 

The film is the second in Park's "Vengeance" trilogy, which begins with the melancholy "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" in 2002 and ends with the disturbing "Lady Vengeance" in 2005. The films do not share a narrative but are instead "spiritual" sequels, digging into the same themes of false imprisonment and the pointless nature of revenge. "Oldboy" has been remade twice: once (unauthorized) by Bollywood director Sanjay Gupta, and once by Spike Lee in 2013. While I have not seen "Zinda," the Bollywood remake, Lee's version is a pale imitation of the original that lacks the eerie, subversive film-making of the original. Maybe some things are just lost in translation.

Fans excited to see "Oldboy" on the big screen will have to hang tight until Neon releases more information, so keep your peepers peeled on /Film for the latest updates.