Oldboy is the new project from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, 25th Hour, Inside Man), based on the Japanese comic book-turned-movie adaptation from cult Korean director Park Chan-wook (Stoker).
It should come as little surprise that this movie has aroused the ire of the cinephile masses since it was announced, given that it is a Hollywood remake of an award-winning foreign-language film. Not to mention, nowadays Lee gets more attention for his outspoken political views and comments about other powerful players in the entertainment biz, rather than his films (see: the small box office returns and quiet reception for Miracle at St. Anna and Red Hook Summer).
Here is an official synopsis for the film:
Oldboy follows the story of an advertising executive (Josh Brolin) who is kidnapped and held hostage for 20 years in solitary confinement without any indication of his captor’s motive. When he is inexplicably released, he embarks on an obsessive mission to discover who orchestrated his bizarre and torturous punishment only to find he is still trapped in a web of conspiracy and torment. His quest for revenge leads him into an ill-fated relationship with a young social worker (Elizabeth Olsen) and ultimately to an illusive man (Sharlto Copley) who allegedly holds the key to his salvation.
There are a handful of reasons to at least be intrigued (if not necessarily excited) to see Oldboy, not least of which is because the script was not conceived by Lee; hence, this shouldn’t follow the trend of the filmmaker’s weaker efforts, wherein he prioritizes good storytelling behind sermonizing. Moreover, the screenplay by Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend, Thor) take elements from both the source material and Chan-wook’s adaptation, while adding new material that includes an ending being trumped up as even darker than the original conclusion.
Now, that does not mean Oldboy won’t cover recurring issues explored throughout Lee’s past work, such as social-inequality and racial tensions in America; on the contrary, this should still feel like a Spike Lee ‘joint’, both stylistically and thematically. However, when the filmmaker isn’t attempting to force lessons on viewers (and instead, let them arise organically from the narrative), his ‘joints’ usually prove to be powerful pieces of cinema. So that alone provides reason to be optimistic about Oldboy.
Look for Oldboy when it opens in U.S. theaters on October 11th, 2013.