I always end up renting movies when I'm back in Houston. I picked up Oldboy on the basis of a vague recollection that it had been well reviewed and that it was in some sense mysterious. I got more from the film by walking in with relatively little foreknowledge, although had I read the reviews in detail, I would have known about the unrealistically long and loud sex scene in advance and muted it so as not to disturb my grandparents. Even in Korean with subtitles, it was a bit much.
The plot establishes interlocking desires for revenge and parallel love stories, but the ending gets a bit overwrought (I still haven't figured out why a tongue was cut off). I won't give away so much that your enjoyment of the movie is decreased. Oh Dae-Su, a drunken businessman, is bailed out by a friend and starts to make his way home for his young daughter's birthday party. On the way, he's snatched, only to awaken in what looks like a seedy motel room but later is revealed to be a private prison, where faceless guards shove plates of fried dumplings under his door every day and refuse to answer his angry and pathetic begging for answers. After fifteen years of this mysterious existence, he awakens on a rooftop. His captor has released him, but why? Dae-Su goes to a sushi restaurant he recognized from a television program and meets a lovely young chef, Mi-do, who decides to help him find the truth. But can Dae-Su discover why he was imprisoned before his captor wreaks yet more vengeance upon him? Who can he trust? What are the fruits of revenge? Recommended.