We will next see Josh Brolin in Gangster Squad, but when we caught up with the True Grit star at a recent interview, he revealed a few insights into Oldboy, the Spike Lee  remake of Korean director Park Chan-wook’s 2003 thriller, based on the Japanese manga of the same name, written by Nobuaki Minegishi and Garon Tsuchiya. Park’s Oldboy was the middle chapter of the director’s Vengeance Trilogy, preceded by Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and followed by Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.

Starring alongside Brolin in Lee’s version are Elizabeth Olsen (Silent House), Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained), and Sharlto Copley (District 9); the story is about a man who has only five days and limited resources to discover why he was imprisoned in a nondescript room for fifteen years without any explanation.

Brolin, who has high hopes for the film going to Cannes, says it’s more of a reinterpretation than it is a remake of the original:

“It’s like it. I think the general structure is. I called Park Chan-wook myself and asked him: “I need your blessing in order to do this because I won’t do this without your blessing.”  He said absolutely. Just don’t do the same movie. I said: “We’re not.” I think it’s going to turn out really good.”

Josh says he’s looking forward to viewing the final edit and that it might be just as violent as the original:

“Old Boy is going to be great. It should not be (violent) but I think it’s going to be.  We went ‘this could be a stinker’ and then something came together. Spike Lee was fantastic.”

There are certainly plenty of fans of Park’s film that would agree with that ‘could be a stinker’ sentiment when it comes to discussion of Lee’s version. While Brolin no doubt has to praise the film he is headlining, his sentiments do fall in line with what he, his co-stars and producer Roy Lee have all said on past occasion:

  • Lee’s version will borrow from both Park’s film and the manga but will be “Americanized” in terms of context – a la Scorsese’s approach to The Departed.
  • Mark Protosevich’s (I Am Legend) script will take new paths to arrive at the same destinations as the original film.
  • The controversial ending will apparently be even darker in the American version.
  • Lee has some neat filmmaking tricks up his sleeve.
  • We will allegedly still see the “hallway hammer fight” and “octopus dinner” scenes in this new version.

While these claims will likely do little to dissuade cynical parties bemoaning the existence of this remake, hearing Brolin admit that it could’ve been bad – but ultimately turned out to be a pleasantly surprising cinematic endeavor – fills us with some optimism.

Gangster Squad will be in theaters on January 11, 2013.

Oldboy is slated for release October 11, 2013.