The Daily Northwestern

‘Oldboy’ gets a new look

DJ Oh, Columnist

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Remakes seem to be a trending fad in the movie industry these days, but it is always tricky in the case of Western reinterpretation of Asian cinema — especially when the original is a beloved cult classic.

Spike Lee’s remake of Korean director Chan-wook Park’s hit thriller “Oldboy” is set to be released Nov. 27, and the much-anticipated shocker is already garnering a heap of controversy.

The new “Oldboy” will feature Josh Brolin (“No Country For Old Men”) as Joe Doucett, who is kidnapped and kept in solitary confinement for 20 years. Sharlto Copley (“District 9”) will portray the mysterious captor, who torments the protagonist by suddenly setting him free and goading him to take revenge.

After its 2003 release, the original “Oldboy” shocked international viewers with its Tarantino-like ultra-violence, on-screen nudity, themes of incest, and of course, the notorious live octopus-eating scene.

Despite its controversial content, the vicious revenge flick opened to universal acclaim, eventually winning the Grand Prix award at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, along with dozens of other nominations and wins. Besides its shock value, the original was praised for its unorthodox yet beautiful cinematography, top-tier acting and rich script filled with playful insight and gasp-inducing plot twists.

With the mark the original film made in the international film industry, it is easy to see why the announcement of a Western remake may upset some fans and critics.

Lee stated the remake will be a direct adaptation of Park’s film instead of an adaptation of the Japanese manga that the original “Oldboy” was based on.

“That’s a great film,” Lee said. “This is the first time I am doing something like this, so it’s interesting how you can stay true to the essence of the original source material, but make it something different.”

But Park’s “Oldboy” stood out for its darkly humorous undertone that drove this bloody ride of a revenge story, and it will be interesting to see whether Lee can pull off the subtle nuances that made the original shine.

Will Spike Lee be able to top the already high expectations for his daring effort in recreating a masterpiece? Make sure to check it out this Thanksgiving, and if you haven’t seen the original yet, go ahead and watch — and be amazed.