A man is kidnapped and imprisoned for 15 years, not knowing why or by whom. When he is finally released, he seeks vengeance.
Empire Online names it one of the 100 best films of world cinema and calls it "essential viewing". Slant Magazine gives it 2 out of 4 stars and concludes, "What does it really mean, you may ask after watching this spectacularly meaning-less film, a pristine example of style and plot over substance." Salon.com says,
“Oldboy” makes us feel a part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s a grand, gritty, indelible experience, the sort of picture that mimics great literature in the way it envelops you in a well-told story while also evoking subtle but strong gradations of emotion.1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die includes it. Roger Ebert says,
In its sexuality and violence, this is the kind of movie that can no longer easily be made in the United States; the standards of a puritanical minority, imposed on broadcasting and threatened even for cable, make studios unwilling to produce films that might face uncertain distribution. But content does not make a movie good or bad -- it is merely what it is about. "Oldboy" is a powerful film not because of what it depicts, but because of the depths of the human heart which it strips bare.The Rotten Tomatoes critics score is 81%.