Seemingly without reason, Oh Dae-Su (Choi Min Sik) is just picked off the
street, & locked into appartment, where he gets sufficient food &
everything ... but is deprived of any human contact - & furthermore someone
murders his wife & plants evidence that Oh Dae-Su is the killer. After 15
years (!), he is set free again, again seemingly without reason.
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When he is out again - & provided with a cellphone, money & clothes
by some stranger, he first goes to a Japanese restaurant - & immediately,
Mido (Kang Hye-Yeong), a cook at the restaurant, falls in love with him ...
& he soon with her, too. But still, soon he wants revenge on those who
locked him up ... & goes after the only clue he has, a certain type of
food, which he has to browse all the town's Chinese restaurants to identify.
The next clue he finds leads to a surveillance company, that has monitored all
his moves - but this clue seems to be a dead end when the owner, despite brutal
torture ascertains that he has never seen the face of his employer ...
... after all his investigations have led to relatively little, the man who
had him locked up actually shows up at Oh Dae-Su's doorstep - & gives him 5
days to find out why he did it, otherwise Mido will die.
& though Oh Dae-Su soon frees Mido, his captor has become elusive again
... but has purposely planted clues that lead to the truth: It turns out that
his name is Lee Woo-jin (Yu Ji-Tae) & he went to the same school as Oh
Dae-Su ... & what's more, his sister has committed suicide shortly after Oh
Dae-Su got transferred to another school.
Feeling victorious, Oh Dae-Su goes to Lee Woo-Jin's appartment, a luxurious
penthouse, & presents him with his findings ... only to find out Lee
Woo-Jin's scheme against Oh Dae-Su doesn't end with their meeting, it just
begins to unfold.
Back in school, Lee Woo-Jin tells, he had an incestuous relationship with
his sister, & even impregnated her. But even so, he thought their love was
pure ... until Oh Dae-Su told everyone, ruining the reputation of both brother
& sister ... & Lee Woo-Jin's sister committed suicide because of it -
which in Lee Woo-Jin's opinion is all Oh Dae-Su's fault ... So Lee Woo-Jin had
him locked up for 15 years, long enough for Oh Dae-Su's little daughter to grow
up to legal age, & then had both him & his daughter hypnotized to fall
in love with each other ... & Oh Dae-Su's daughter of course is Mido ...
Oh Dae-Su is reasonably & understandably shocked, but when Lee Woo-Jin
threatens to tell it all to Mido, too, he turns into a wimpering idiot who will
do anything to keep Lee Woo-Jin from doing so, be it kissing his feet, cowering
like a dog or even cutting out his own tongue (!) ...
Lee Woo-Jin decides that at long last, Oh Dae-Su has had his punishment,
promises to stay forever silent & just to make sure shoots himself.
& Oh Dae-Su does the only sensible thing (or is it): He goes to a
hypnotist who erases all his memories of the true identity of his lover Mido,
& as lovers he & Mido can finally go into a brighter future ... or do
Once this movie kicks into gear, it is a fine, mazelike & violent
thriller that really had some thought put into it. Unfortunately it takes quite
a while until the movie kicks into gear, the film takes way too long
(approximately one hour or half of the film) to set up the story, in that time
presenting the viewer with an array of loose ends, false clues & violence
that, especially in retrospect, becomes meaningless & superfluous. Still,
all that doesn't destroy the powerful conclusion.