'Oldboy': A Remake Spike Lee Should Have Left Alone
Spike Lee's remake of the South Korean cult classic 'Oldboy' fails to capture the same thrilling and unnerving elements as the original.
American director Spike Lee has just seen the release of his latest project, 'Oldboy', a remake of the highly successful South Korean 2003 movie. The original is considered a cult classic, which was praised for its unpredictable plot and unnerving violence, so a remake with a westernised view could catch a cinemagoers attention.
Brolin as 'Joe Doucett' locked in a hotel room
The new version stars Josh Brolin as 'Joe Doucett', an advertising executive who has a messy personal life, the heavy drinker stumbles out of a bar one night and learns from a disgruntled ex-wife that he missed his daughter's 3rd birthday before passing out next to a shadowed figure.
The next day 'Doucett' wakes up in a hotel with no memory of how he got there. Treated like a prisoner, he is confined in the cell like room for the next 20 years. In all that time 'Doucett' can only watch the world pass him by on a television above his bed, which one day broadcasts a story on the murder of his ex-wife and the abduction of his child.
'Joe' vows to avenge his family and after a constant diet of vodka and Chinese food, he cleans himself up, until one day he is released back in society. 'Joe' now searches for his missing daughter and quickly realizes the torment is not yet over.
Spike Lee had the chance to put a westernised spin on the remake but why did he fail to produce a film with the same critical acclaim as its original?
Brolin in 'Oldboy' looking for his daughter
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone slammed the remake as he thought, "What's onscreen feels squeezed, truncated and curiously embalmed. It's got no kick to it... Oldboy just lies there like old news that's not worth a second thought."
David Edlestein of Vulture echoes the criticism as he felt, "The violence ... is gruesome - oodles of CG blood and brain matter - but out of scale. It's shock for shock's sake. It doesn't track."
Marc Savlov from the Austin Chronicle expresses his confusion to why Lee tackled the project in the first place, he flet Lee kept to the original plot but thought "like so many Americanized versions of Asian groundbreakers, I ultimately found myself asking "Why?"
However, the minority of critics who did like it thought the twisting and thrilling plot was the most satisfying aspect of the film, Jeffrey M. Anderson from Common Sense Media praised "[Lee's] hard, brutal OLDBOY tackles that mind-bending, subversive story without flinching."
'Oldboy', which also stars Samuel L Jackson and Elizabeth Olsen, was released on November 27th but UK cinemagoers will have to wait until December 6th.
Brolin and Samuel L Jackson star alonside each other in the remake