Talk about a disturbing film, folks. It’s loosely based on the 19th century novel “The Count of Monte Cristo” penned by Alexandre Dumas. This 2003 South Korean adaptation follows the story of a drunk named O Dae Su (Choi Min Sik), who can’t stay out of trouble, but who loves his wife and young daughter dearly. In the beginning of the film, he’s snatched mysteriously and thrown into a seedy motel-like prison cell where he is kept for next 15 years. For those 15 years, he fills several notebooks with notes of wrong acts he committed and of people that he feels he wronged, striving to figure out who is behind his unjust imprisonment. He never figures out by the time he is released, but is on a determined mission to find out, along with discovering that his wife has been murdered and his daughter shipped off to Switzerland to live with a foster family.
Enter Woo-Jin (Ji Tae), who plays the villain who O Dae Su offended enough to have him locked up. O Dae Su does some digging, and finally discovers the reason why Ji Tae exacted revenge. When I first saw Ji Tae, I couldn’t help but notice how handsome he is, and his handsome looks are in interesting contradiction to the creepy, vengeful role he played. A+ for Ji Tae! A+ for Oldboy! There is quite a twist at the end that you won’t expect, and in contrast to “The Count of Monte Cristo”, the reason why O Dae Su is imprisoned is truly…unique. Might I also warn you in advance that this film is not for the faint of heart. Watch at your own discretion.