New ‘OldBoy’ Clip and Images, Writer & Cast Defend Spike Lee’s Remake

Published 2 years ago by , Updated July 26th, 2014 at 12:45 pm,

517972101 3 620 439 New OldBoy Clip and Images, Writer & Cast Defend Spike Lees Remake

The American version of OldBoy has had a rough time of things. Reviled by fans of Chan-wook Park’s 2003 Korean adaption since the moment it was even considered, the new OlbBoy got a promising start when it was backed by Steven Spielberg and Will Smith – only to have those two heavyweights drop it before a green light was given. The project was revitalized when it snagged big names like Josh Brolin, Samuel L. Jackson and Sharlto Copley, but the choice of Spike Lee as a director has been as divisive as it has been intriguing.

Despite a pretty solid red-band trailer evidencing the same grittiness, gore, and twisted vision that made the original a hit, the new OldBoy still isn’t getting a lot of love. We talked to some of the cast and the much beleaguered writer of the film about what they have done to distinguish their version as something worthwhile and unique; you can also check out a clip from the film above and new images throughout the post.

We caught up with OldBoy remake writer Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend) at the 2013 New York Comic Con. Accompanying him were cast members Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos) and Pom Klementieff, who play Chucky, an old friend of Josh Brolin’s Joe Doucett and the female bodyguard of the man tormenting Joe, respectively. Although the trio tried to get discuss the art of making the film and deeper explorations of its meaning and craftsmanship, talk inevitably kept turning to why this remake of a cult-favorite film needed to exist in the first place:

Mark Protosevich: When I first go involved in this which that is an interesting story in itself because I got involved with this because I got a call from Will Smith. Originally Will Smith I had worked with Will Smith in “I Am Legend” and he told me, ‘I want you to write my next movie it’s a remake of OldBoy and Steven Spielberg is going to direct it’ So two days later I was on a plane to LA and meeting Spielberg for a year that was going to be the package and then that completely fell apart. That may have been the initial interesting hook for me it would be working with them on this as opposed to saying, ‘are you interested in writing a remake of OldBoy?’ But when that fell apart I had become so passionate about the material and had worked out a thirty page treatment and had the movie clear in my head the producer still wanted to go forward so I said, “I’m in.” This one really meant something to me.

You can get into the whole issue of– I know there are some fundamentalist out there that feels the original movie should have never been remade, and I respect their feeling and there’s probably nothing I can say to change that, but there are in the course of film history some fairly good English-language versions of some foreign films or remakes of classics. I’m glad David Cronenberg remade “The Fly.” There’s a Japanese version of “Unforgiven” that’s coming out and I’m curious about that. I’m not saying, ‘how dare they remake ‘Unforgiven!’ I’m curious about that. I think there’s something good about keeping an open mind and being open to new experiences.

Oldboy 2013 Hallway Fight 570x379 New OldBoy Clip and Images, Writer & Cast Defend Spike Lees Remake

Mark Protosevich: When you’re faced with an adaptation – whether it’s a book or an existing film or a graphic novel or a video – a lot of it is purely analytical, where it’s going, ‘ok there’s only so much of this material we can take or this might not work’ but a lot of it becomes just this sort of emotional, gut, creative feeling. A lot of times you’re just going on instinct so they’re a definitely things in terms of the film that I wanted to follow that we all wanted to be in there. But there are variations.

Spike and I talked about at the very beginning were, just in terms of intent, like cover versions of songs. I love Neil Young’s “Like A Hurricane” but Roxy Music does this awesome cover of it. So it’s that kind [of thing] where you’re honoring the original but trying to make it your own as much as possible. One thing that I find boring even in a cover version is if the song sounds exactly the same as the original but then I’ve also heard covers where you barely recognize the original song so it’s finding that balance. In between of honoring the original and believe me I have nothing but respect for the original and that was one of the intents was to go into this from a place of honor and respect, but also as a creative person you want to make it your own. You want to bring something of yourself to it. Perhaps boost up themes that are a little more interesting to me and to Spike.

Of course an audience being open to new experiences requires a director who is able to sell them on a new vision and new ideas, and Spike Lee has so many detractors – more for his off-screen persona than onscreen work – that selling people on this new OldBoy has almost become doubly impossible.

However, if there is one person who can judge what Lee has done with Oldboy it is Michael Imperioli; before his fame-making turn on The Sopranos, the actor has worked with Lee on five films (Jungle FeverMalcolm XClockersGirl 6Summer of Sam), so he knows all about the director’s visual prowess and how to judge his work on OldBoy against his other films.

Sharlto Copley in OldBoy 570x379 New OldBoy Clip and Images, Writer & Cast Defend Spike Lees Remake

Sharlto Copley in ‘Oldboy’

When asked what Lee has done, visually, with the remake, Imperioli stated that this is, in many ways, Spike Lee’s ‘comic book movie’:

Michael Imperioli: I think it’s a departure for him because it’s based on, originally, a graphic novel and I think there’s kind of that heightened sense of reality and there’s a certain tone visually – colors that pop in that kind of graphic novel kind of way – which is really exciting. I think he really embraced it as, ‘we’re not just making a gritty reality driven movie, it’s almost taking place in this alternate universe’ from what I saw, I was really excited.

In addition to some visual splendor, Imperioli said that the character aspects of the work were just as important to Lee:

Michael Imperioli: I mean with Spike he’s a very much a character driven director, he loves actors, so you’re going to get that combination. I think that’s really excited cause Spike Lee is not the name you first think about redoing “OldBoy” – apparently at one time it was Steven Spielberg that wanted to remake this movie with Will Smith. That would have been a pretty different situation, and I think that’s what’s really exciting. I think what’s amazing about Spike is that he’s willing [to do different things] now he’s doing something that he raised [funds] for on Kickstarter and the one before ‘Red Hook Summer’ he did for 10 million dollars he’s willing to play in very different arenas. That’s what makes him a great artist.

Josh Brolin and Samuel L. Jackson in OldBoy 570x379 New OldBoy Clip and Images, Writer & Cast Defend Spike Lees Remake

Josh Brolin and Samuel L. Jackson in ‘OldBoy’ (2013)

But if you’re a fan of the original, no need to worry: you’ll still be getting plenty of brutal violence:

Michael Imperioli: Oh yeah it’s violent. I mean I think that is part of the of the story, part of the theme, unfortunately. It’s part of the world we live in. Because of technology – the first thing that pops to my head was the bikers that attacked the guy – I mean twenty or thirty years ago you would have never seen images of that. So those kinds of things we live with on a much more regular basis. You see beheadings and terrorist confessions – we’re much more aware of that in this society and we’re immune to it to a certain degree or we’re gradually getting immune to a lot of that stuff. I think that’s why this plays such a role in this film, it’s an element to the story… I’d say it’s like Karma, cause and effect. That’s my take. I’m sure Mark has a much different one and more articulate, probably.

Mark Protosevich: I had three meeting with Steven and in one of the first meetings he said, ‘my son will kill me if we don’t make this as intense as the original’ so in his mind we were going to go there. Now I don’t think he ever had that conversation with Will [Smith], so who knows what might have happened, but even in those early stages there was encouragement to go for  it.

The other assumption was that we were somehow going to wimp out and make it a little more palpable to  a mass audience, and I can assure you we did not. I still hope it has an audience and that they enjoy it, but the intention from the very beginning….I think we were all like, ‘let’s just jump into the pool with a hammer and a razor and see what happens!’

Pom Klementieff in OldBoy 570x379 New OldBoy Clip and Images, Writer & Cast Defend Spike Lees Remake

Pom Klementieff in ‘Oldboy’ (2013)

Well apparently it got TOO violent, because one of the actors ended up really feeling the pain:

Pom Klementieff: I’m the bodyguard of the villain kind of, and thanks to him [Mark Protosevich] I’m a girl… I had to train in martial arts, like Taekwondo inspired training for two months like three hours a day. I lost a toenail… I lost it after the movie because I’m really professional so after I put a Band-Aid on it with Angry Birds cause they’re cute and anyway…

Finally, we asked Protosevich about a producer’s claim that the ending to the US OldBoy is even darker than the Korean one:

Mark Protosevich: That’s the way he felt. That’s actually the way some other people have felt. So you’ll have to see, you can be the judge. You tell me after you see the movie.


OldBoy 2013 Logo New OldBoy Clip and Images, Writer & Cast Defend Spike Lees Remake

At this point, at Protosevich pointed out, it’s nearly impossible for any fan of the original who hates the idea of this new film to be turned around in his/her opinion. However, we saw the footage screened during the OldBoy NYCC panel, we’ve see the red-band trailer, and we’ve heard that poor guy that wrote the film pour his heart out to the ruthless ‘Con crowd. All we’re saying is, this film might not be THE worst remake to come along, and maybe (just maybe) it deserves a chance to stand on its own.


We’ll all know for sure when OldBoy hits theaters on November 27th.

Follow Kofi Outlaw on Twitter @ppnkof
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  1. Fanboys are always so parasitic over a movie they can choose to watch or not. It’s ridiculous.

  2. I can see the attraction for many of the original however
    I did not think the film deserves the esteem it garners.

    The main plot was hard to believe, I realize there is a
    cultural disconnect for me there but still, and the
    ending was far from satisfying and a let down.

    There is plenty of room to improve the story
    including the ending and why not attempt that.
    Spike Lee is not whom I would liked to see charged
    with such a task despite the very good casting choices.

    • That’s how I felt too. The movie was good but the twist didn’t shock me at all (I never knew what the twist was before watching it and when it happened, I just sorta said “…Oh, ok I can see that happening”).

      Then again, I like The Host too and still felt wholly unsatisfied by it, despite watching it several times. I understood the political satire but it just never connected with me.

  3. Do not try to reason with the fanboys, most of them fail to understand the fact that just because it’s a remake it doesn’t need to be a bad movie. In fact it’s not a remake, it’s a readaptation. I am a fan of the source material and I hope this film follows it a bit more closely than the original film, which is as faithful as, let’s see…World War Z.

    With that being said, judge this for what it is: a revenge film. Ignore the original source and ignore the first adaptation. Judging a film before it comes out its what made Dredd a failure at the box office.

    • That last line is so true.

      People thought of the horrible Stallone movie and avoided Dredd, despite it being as gritty, darkly humourous and violent as the stories in the 2000AD comic books.

      Then again, I don’t understand US audiences. They seem to see a trailer for a horrible movie and decide they want to watch it, then complain that it sucked. Then they see people saying a movie looks terrible based on a trailer and complain that you shouldn’t judge a movie by the trailer, which is what the trailer is meant to do, allow you to judge it.

      Good movies like Dredd and Pacific Rim fail at the US box office and bad movies like Grown Ups 2 and Meet The Spartans do big box office numbers.

      I think that country is Bizarro Land.

  4. It’s a remake. The people that have seen the movie already have said as such. The script says it is a remake. It has very little to do with the original manga. As did the original Korean film that had about two things in common with the manga. A remake should be judged as that. If it were meant to be judged as an original film it would be an original film. Plenty things wrong with remakes. Most to do with the fact they make it that much harder for the little guy to succeed. Where most of the true great movies come from and all.

    But yes, “remakes are awesome because I like having an anti-opinion” is also a great point. I guess.

    • It’s Re-branding, since they are making it more into an Americanize version of it. It’s not a re-adaptation like some says, since the so called source material these cast/anyone involved with the film tells you they adapted it more from the source and not from the Korean film, is practically selling us a lot of bull crap. Even the Korean film wasn’t faithful to the source material (cause honestly I’ve read it, the manga was GODAWFUL! as well). That fight scene in the hallway (happened in the Korean film and it is clearly happening in the new film, again selling us bull crap) never happened in the manga. Even the ending was different (let’s not go there since like i said, the manga was GODAWFUL!).

  5. I’ll give this a fair shot, Carrie to. Contrary to popular belief, there have been actual GOOD remakes, even great ones. A few from off the top of my head are:
    John Carpenter’s The Thing.
    Al Pacino’s Scareface.
    The Departed.
    Christopher Nolan’s Insomnia.
    The Donald Sutherland Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
    Jeff Goldblum’s The Fly.
    And many more.

    I’m also interesting in seeing how they can POSSIBLY make the ending even darker than the original.

  6. At least Will Smith isnt in it.

  7. I like how most of the posts and comments regarding this remake now have turned into vague pokes at the fanboys railing against this film. Obviously some people go a little overboard with their vitriol (and yes, I’m as guilty as anyone in that regard sometimes) but allow me to try and defend the opposite side of the argument for a bit (since this comment section seems to be entirely fanboy-bashers). I know remakes can turn out good (although not lately it seems) and I know Spike Lee is capable of making a compelling film (although not lately it seems) but when it comes to a property that I’ve come to know and love over the years I get nervous. Part of me would like to see a different take on the same ol’ story but the other part sees everything released thus far and is horrified at how seemingly “off” this interpretation is. Call me a seething fanboy or a mindless American consumer all you want, there’s something about this remake that’s leaving a bad taste in my mouth. I’ll be there on opening night though praying that Lee does something worthy of the original. Because as much as my fanboy brethren might disagree, I want Lee’s Oldboy to succeed so it doesn’t fall in line with so many other great films with a lousy American remake. Oldboy deserves better than that.

    So, for me at least, it’s less about the fact that there’s a remake at all and more about the fact that it doesn’t appear to be doing justice to the original. Say what you want about Park Chan-wook (brilliant, subtle, brutal, etc.) but his version of Oldboy has stuck in the collective conscious for years now. I doubt Lee’s will have the same staying power but I’m hoping it does at least make for an interesting diversion.

    Alright, I’m done.