'Oldboy' and Spike Lee's remake

‘Oldboy’ has gotten the remake treatment from director Spike Lee. Chan-wook Park’s cult classic has been ‘Americanized’ for an October 2013 release. Here’s why you need to see the 2003 original South Korean cult masterpiece first.

‘Oldboy’ is legendary amongst cult movies fans for two primary reasons. The terrific premise, wherein a man is imprisoned for 15 years and then released without knowing the reasons for his incarceration, actually isn’t one of them.

‘Oldboy’ has gained its notoriety for two scenes. First is an incredible fight sequence known as the “hallway” scene. When a man with nothing fueling him but feral rage takes on an army of thugs, the resulting fight scene is epic.

The second, and most important reason for the films legendary status, is its denouement. To expand upon this would be criminal. Flixnerd is a “no-spoiler” movie site and always will be.

Why remake such an iconic film? Obviously, remake director Spike Lee felt that he can inject something fresh into the original premise. The story of ‘Oldboy’ is a tale of revenge and redemption, of loss and acceptance.

Chan-wook Park’s original is beautifully shot and every scene structured in a way that propels the story forward. Min-sik Choi is brilliant as the vengeance-minded Dae-su Oh (Oldboy’s protagonist)

As you can see from the trailer below, the film contains some very strong scenes of both implied and on-screen violence. ‘Oldboy’ is a visceral experience.

On Wednesday July 10, the trailer for Spike Lee’s version was released to the public. It is NSFW, as it is the “Red Band” trailer for the film.


Click here for non-flash trailer link to Yahoo! Movies (best for many mobile phones)

Thankfully, director Spike Lee appears to have adapted ‘Oldboy’ versus simply remaking the film. Having seen the original Korean movie, it’s obvious that some plot points have been changed. That acknowledges the fans of the original work. Nicely done, Mr. Spike Lee.

If you are a fan of talented directors, the revenge genre, or “extreme” Asian cinema…viewing the original ‘Oldboy’ first is a must. Opt for a subtitled version, as the dubbed 2003 ‘Oldboy’ suffers from some overly melodramatic voice work.

Lee’s decision to cast some well-known actors such as Josh Brolin, Samuel L. Jackson, Elizabeth Olsen, and Sharlto Copley adds to my curiosity factor and my hopes for a great movie. I can’t wait to see what other changes Lee has in store for audiences.

When a foreign film is remade for American audiences, it’s due to a director’s desire to share their own vision of a great movie. Park’s ‘Oldboy’ deserves to be seen and will likely enhance your enjoyment of the upcoming remake.

‘Oldboy’ is original, intense, dramatic, and full of dark surprises. It has a well-earned place of reverence amongst genre fans. See the original first.

Flixnerd will revisit ‘Oldboy’ in October when the new version hits theaters on 10/25/13.

Chan-wook Park’s ‘Oldboy’: 4.5 / 5 stars

Spike Lee’s ‘Oldboy’: TBD October 25

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