(aka "OldBoy" or "Old Boy")

 

directed by Park Chan-wook
South Korea 2003

 

Oh Dae-su is an ordinary man, who one day is kidnapped and imprisoned in a hotel room for 15 years, then one day, just as sudden as he was kidnapped, is released, with new clothes, money and a cell phone. Thus begins Oh Dae-su’s search for an explanation, for who was behind it and for revenge. But this is just the second part of the plan, the kidnapper has for Oh Dae-su.

Winner of the Grand Prix de Jury in Cannes, “Oldboy” is Park’s today most complex and cruel film. Where all his films study cause and effect, “Oldboy” is a Kafka-ian ping pong game.

Park has always created extremely fascinating visuals, and here, as the book is based upon a comic book, he goes over the edge, literary adapts comic compositions to the screen in terms of mise-en-scene, and creating his to date most visual film, which has to be seen on the big screen to be experienced at full force.

Interesting is Park’s directorial choices. He did chose a very popular comic and did cast the two most popular actors in Korea, but never altered his auteurist signature nor his leitmotif. As such, one can see this as an attempt to create an auteurist blockbuster.

Be advised to ignore the rave from Tarantino about this film, as it reduces the quality of the film. Instead, sit back and enjoy one of Korea’s greatest filmmakers taking you on a roller coaster ride. Park is not everyman’s taste, but an acquired taste, which ones you get the hang of it, never can let go again.
 

Henrik Sylow

Posters

Theatrical Release: November 21, 2003

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison: 

Starmax (Special Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC vs. Starmax (Ultimate Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC vs. Tartan Asia Extreme (2 Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - PAL vs. Tartan Video USA - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the PAL,  Gregory Meshman for the NTSC and Pat Pilon for both Region 3 versions!

DVD Box Cover

 

 

Distribution

Starmax

Region 3 - NTSC

Starmax

Region 3 - NTSC

Tartan Asia Extreme

Region 0 - PAL

Tartan Video USA

Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:59:48 1:59:47 1:55:04 (4% PAL speedup) 1:59:44
Video

2.27:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.22 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.30:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.68 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.83 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.6 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Starmax (Special Edition)

 

Bitrate

Starmax (Ultimate Edition)

 

Bitrate

Tartan -PAL

Bitrate

Tartan -NTSC

Audio Korean (DTS 5.1), Korean (DD 2.0) Korean (DD 5.1) 2.0 Dolby Digital Korean, 5.1 Dolby Digital Korean, 6.1 DTS ES Korean 5.1 Dolby Digital Korean, 5.1 DTS Korean, 5.1 Dolby Digital English (DUB)
Subtitles English, Korean, None English, Korean, None English, None English, Spanish, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Starmax

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.27:1

Edition Details:
• Music Channel (soundtrack with montage of images from film)
• Making Of Documentary Part 1(5 segments):
• - Audition (8:41)
• - Characterization (13:51)
• - Hunting (3:34)
• - Reading (6:52)
• - Crank In (5:29)
• Theatrical Trailer (2:22)
• Teaser Trailer (1:09)
• TV Spot (0:30)
• Starsailor Music Video (2:49)

DVD Release Date: May 14, 2004
Textured Cardboard Box with 2 single disc digi-packs

Chapters 24

 

 

Release Information:
Studio: Starmax

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.30:1

Edition Details:
• 4 Audio Commentaries by director, cinematographer, cast and Korean film critics
• Audio Commentary by film critic Harry Knowles (in English with optional Korean subtitles)
• Making Of Documentary Part 2: Flashback (23:32) + Production (10:54)
• All That Background: Production Design (13:11) + Computer Graphics (7:05) + Original Soundtrack (16:
• I Want To Tell You My Story (interviews with cast & crew - 40:51)
• Le Grand Prix de Cannes (8:48)
• Deleted/Alternate Scenes (with optional commentary by director Chan-wook Park - 23:24)
• Secret (music video directed by Chan-wook Park - 5:28)
• Judgement (short film directed by Chan-wook Park - with burned in English subtitles - 20:59)
• Memory Of Old Boy (short film directed by Kim Min-Seok - 28:15)
• Autobiography of Old Boy (3:25:08)
• Soundtrack CD (60 mins)
• 80 page photo book with a review in Korean
• 3 Film Cells
• Storyboards

 

DVD Release Date: November 22, 2004
4 single disc digi-packs in a numbered, hand-made copper tin, delivered in a purple cardboard box

Chapters 24

Release Information:
Studio: Tartan Asia Extreme

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by Park Chan-wook
• Audio commentary by Park Chan-wook and Jeong Jeong-hun
• Audio commentary by Park Chan-wook and selected Cast
• Trailer
• Disc 2:
• Flash (22:57)
• The Cast Remembers (10:58)
• Production Design (13:14)
• CGI featurette (7:10)
• The Music Score (16:50)
• Le Grand Prix at Cannes (8:51)
• Exclusive interview with Park by Mark Salisbury (22:13)
• 11 Interviews with director, writer, cast and crew (41:20)
• 10 Deleted Scenes with optional audio commentary by Park (24:17)
• Newly digital remastered with new English subtitles

DVD Release Date: February 28, 2005
2 disc Keep Case

Chapters 16

Release Information:
Studio: Tartan Video USA

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic -

Edition Details:
• Audio commentary by Park Chan-wook and Jeong Jeong-hun
• Interview with Park Chan-wook (7:01)
• 9 Deleted Scenes with optional audio commentary by Park (21:51)
• Photo Gallery
• Theatrical Trailer
• Oldboy Trailer Contest Winner
• Trailers for 6 other Tartan USA releases

DVD Release Date: August 23, 2005
Keepcase in a Slipcase

Chapters 16

 

 

Comments ADDITION - Both Ultimate and Special - Region 3 versions. NOTE: We understand that the 'Final Edition' image is exactly the same as the 'Ultimate'

 

Sound:
The difference between the Dolby 5.1 in the UE and DTS in the SE is negligible. They pretty much sound the same to me. I've listened to a few scenes and I can't really tell which is better. Can't compare with the Tartan releases.


Picture:
The Tartan R0 still looks the best. The SE is probably closer to what the theatrical presentation looked like, which is why it's so different from the other releases. The framing seems to be different in a few scenes also (capture 5). After all the tinting and timing, the differences are small, but the Tartan R0 seems to have slightly better detail.


Extras:
Well...take a guess. Even without understanding Korean, there's still plenty of great stuff on the UE. The 3 1/2-hour doc, deleted scenes, one short film, the Cannes footage and the Harry Knowles commentary are worth watching, even if you only speak English. The SE and UE extras seem to have been made as a set (the doc in 2 parts, for example, and the packaging).
There's no overlap between the extras, save for the OST. The UE box also came with a foam square, which is the same size as the SE box. Evidently, Starmax intended you to put the SE inside the UE box. The Tartan R0, though, has a lot of nice stuff, also, which includes the 40 minutes of interviews (which I find strange because, the PAL interviews run longer than the NTSC ones...) and 3 of the commentaries. (The one that's missing is the critics commentary, and the Harry Knowles one.)

Pat Pilon

NOTE2: From H. (Thanks!)

 
The SE is the one which was under total supervision of the director (Chan-wook Park) & director of photography (Jeong-hun Jeong) and which has closer look to the theatrical release as well. However, the SE got so many complaints from Korean DVD fans for its heavy grains and blurriness of dark scenes, and the studio (Starmax) eventually decided to remaster the film for the UE.  Bad complaints & wrong decision...  That might be why you're not convinced those boosted colors. Although director participated commentaries for the UE, remastering job has nothing to do w/ filmmakers & their artistic intention. Park even had interviews on a few different Korean magazines, right before the UE released, saying that he still prefers color scheme of the SE and it is the closest one to his & DP's vision."

 

*****

Addition - The Tartan Region 1. - Well it appears as though Tartan actually converted to NTSC before transferring which is a nice gesture, but the DVD (unlike the PAL counterparts) is not progressively scanned (see combing in last 2 large captures). It also falls short in the extras department. Stick with the Tartan Asian Extreme from the UK.

*****

Tartan - PAL:

Image
The image is simply incredible, amongst the best ever from Tartan. I have not been able to find any compression artefacts. There are no ghosting visible, not even during fight sequences. The only element of critic should be, that in Image #7, the green of the oceans fades into her arm.

The image at times grainy and has extreme light / contrast elements (see Image #6), but based on how I recall it from the cinema, they are due to the directorial decision and not to blame any transfer issues.

Sound
All DVD editions I've heard, as well as the film theatrically, has been extremely dynamic. The new 6.1 DTS ES mix is almost reference quality, in how subtle background sound plays in the rears. Compared to both the 5.1 Dolby Digital and the DTS, the 2.0 Dolby Digital is sadly very tame.

Extras
The film is accompanied by three audio commentaries. Best of these is the solo Park commentary, where he discusses the film itself, next is the director / cinematographer commentary, which notes upon the technical aspects, and finally the director / cast commentary, which is very chatty and sort of "lets say something".

On disc 2 we first have 48-minutes of production of production featurettes. In general can be said, that the more specific the topic is, the better they are.

Next comes 12 interviews, where the main interview is a by Tartan for this DVD made 22 minute interview with Park, and 10 deleted scenes with optional audio commentary by Park.

 - Henrik Sylow

 

 






DVD Menus

 

(Starmax (Special Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC LEFT vs. Starmax (Ultimate Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC RIGHT)

 

 


(Tartan Asia Extreme (2 Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - PAL LEFT vs. Tartan Video USA - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

 


Screen Captures

 

(Starmax (Special Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP vs. Starmax (Ultimate Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC 2nd vs. Tartan Asia Extreme (2 Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - PAL - 3rd vs. Tartan Video USA - Region 1 - NTSC) - BOTTOM)


subtitle sample (English only)
captures resized to 800px from 1016px native resolution

 

 

 


(Starmax (Special Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP vs. Starmax (Ultimate Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC 2nd vs. Tartan Asia Extreme (2 Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - PAL - 3rd vs. Tartan Video USA - Region 1 - NTSC) - BOTTOM)

 

 

 


(Starmax (Special Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP vs. Starmax (Ultimate Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC 2nd vs. Tartan Asia Extreme (2 Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - PAL - 3rd vs. Tartan Video USA - Region 1 - NTSC) - BOTTOM)

 

 

 


(Starmax (Special Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP vs. Starmax (Ultimate Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC 2nd vs. Tartan Asia Extreme (2 Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - PAL - 3rd vs. Tartan Video USA - Region 1 - NTSC) - BOTTOM)

 

 

 


(Starmax (Special Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP vs. Starmax (Ultimate Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC 2nd vs. Tartan Asia Extreme (2 Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - PAL - 3rd vs. Tartan Video USA - Region 1 - NTSC) - BOTTOM)

 

 

 


(Starmax (Special Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP vs. Starmax (Ultimate Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC 2nd vs. Tartan Asia Extreme (2 Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - PAL - 3rd vs. Tartan Video USA - Region 1 - NTSC) - BOTTOM)

 

 

 


  (Starmax (Special Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC - TOP vs. Starmax (Ultimate Edition) - Region 3 - NTSC 2nd vs. Tartan Asia Extreme (2 Disc Special Edition) - Region 0 - PAL - 3rd vs. Tartan Video USA - Region 1 - NTSC) - BOTTOM)

 

 

 


Recommended Books on Korean Cinema (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

 

 

Report Card:

 

Image:

PAL

Sound:

-

Extras: PAL
Menu: -
 
DVD Box Cover

Distribution

Tartan Asia Extreme

Region 0 - PAL

Tartan Video USA

Region 1 - NTSC

 




 

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