'Oldboy' Remake: Did Spike Lee Just Mess Up A Brilliant Movie?
Watch 2003's Oldboy again. It's better.
Spike Lee was always treading on glass with cheap shoes when he decided to take on the Oldboy project. The original, 2003 film was a cult classic; adored by international audiences and famed for its unerring approach to violence and a twisted plot.
Josh Brolin and Samuel L. Jackson in Oldboy, the remake
It would be fair to say that Lee had a pretty solid canvas on which to build, but would appear – according to the critics at least – that he missed the opportunity to provide a good western remake of a brilliant foreign movie.
If this had not been a remake, it would possibly be the worst film of the year – at least that’s what the early reviews seem to suggest. Luckily, it is, and it gets by on the grace bestowed upon it by Chan-wook Park’s brilliant original.
“The remake that came too late, so benign and unmemorable that not even people who loved Park Chan-wook's 2003 original will be able to muster much outrage,” said Stephanie Zacharek of Village Voice.
Andrew O’Hehir of Salon.com was equally disparaging: “I would divide the potential audience for "Oldboy" into two groups: Those who will be disappointed and those who will be bewildered.”
Sharlto Copley also scars - sorry, stars - in Oldboy
And The New York Times’ A.O Scott had this to say on the remake, starring Josh Brolin: “If you have seen the earlier version, you can occupy yourself with point-by-point comparisons. If not, you may find yourself swerving between bafflement and mild astonishment...”
The hype was almost palpable surrounding Lee’s remake of the hyper-violent, South Korean mystery thriller. But with an accumulated score of 45% on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s clear the expectation was too much.
And, as we’ve seen with similarly poorly reviewed titles this year – The Counselor, Lone Ranger, etc. – the box office inevitably suffers. So we’re not predicting good things for Oldboy come December 6th when it’s released.