That Scene From ‘Oldboy’ (2003)

“Hey, have you seen this movie? What did you think about THAT SCENE?!” We have all used that phrase at one point during our discussions of movies with the other person’s eyebrows raising, “Oh yea, THAT SCENE!” You go on to pick that memorable scene apart by listing what you loved or didn’t like, how it made you feel and the impression it left on you. 

In this series, we will do just that. We will take a scene from a movie and discuss its impact on us. Some of these scenes may be frightening, weird, iconic, controversial, hilarious, and everything in between. Let us know your impression of the scene and the impact it left on you the first time you watched it down below in the comments. Enjoy!

 *Warning: May Contain Spoilers*


Movie: Oldboy (2003)

Scene: Hall Fight

THE PLAYERS

Director: Chan-wook Park

Characters: Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik), Multiple Thugs

THE SETUP

Oh Dae-su is a businessman arrested for drunkenness and ends up missing his daughter’s fourth birthday. Dae-su is bailed out by a friend but is then kidnapped where he wakes up in a sealed hotel room. He learns that his wife was murdered and he is the prime suspect. He passes his time planning his revenge, digging a tunnel for escape, and shadowboxing. Fifteen years later, Dae-su is ready to escape but is sedated and hypnotized. He awakes on a rooftop seemingly free. He sets out to find his daughter and who falsely imprisoned him. After successfully tracking down the private prison he was locked away at for fifteen years, he is able to get in and extract some info on who put him there. Now comes the hard part. He must fight his way out against a small army of thugs from one end of a hallway to the next in order to escape. This brings us to our scene.

THAT SCENE

THE EXECUTION

The beauty and sheer badassery of this fight scene is in the simplicity of it. First of all, Oh Dae-su is not a trained killing machine like a John Wick that would rip right through these thugs. No, he is a regular man shadow-boxed in order to pass the time for fifteen years during his captivity. He gets his ass kicked. He only survives because of sheer will power and releasing fifteen years of rage. Choi Min-sik plays this perfectly as an everyman with no real training or skill for that matter.

Next, we get a single-take tracking shot down the side of the hallway. No need for a shaky-cam that makes the fight look more intense and no adrenaline-pumping score to get help get the heart racing. You hear the grunts and the brutal hits. Chan-wook Park does an amazing job of mixing intensity and comedy elements to make this three-minute scene feel like a lifetime but entertaining as hell. This took three days and seventeen takes to get just right and they produced one of the greatest fight scenes in movie history. It’s hard to believe no one died during this scene either.


What do you think of this scene? Did you find it intense and well done?

Author: Vincent Kane

I hate things.