The release of Spike Lee’s Oldboy, the remake that’s caused quite a stir amongst fans of Park Chan-wook original ever since its announcement, is nearly upon us. The film stars Josh Brolin as an average man called Joe Doucett who one day finds himself inexplicably kidnapped off the street and locked away in a hotel room that’s been modified into a prison cell. Despite his pleas and protests, Joe is kept in the room for twenty years, his only access to the outside world coming to him from a TV, until one day he is released and must solve the mystery of who ruined his life, and why.
It’s not unusual for actors to lose or gain weight for movie roles, sometimes to extremes such as Christian Bale’s frighteningly skeletal look in The Machinist, and a new featurette for Oldboy charts how Brolin was tasked with yo-yoing his weight in order to first play Joe as the slightly overweight drunkard that he is at the time of his kidnapping, before then shredding his body down to something much leaner as Joe lives out twenty years of his life in forced isolation.
The featurette also offers a look into how Oldboy was filmed, including a sequence from what looks like the beginning of the film where Joe is stumbling drunkenly down the street. Director of photography Sean Bobbitt (The Place Beyond the Pines) mounted the camera on a steadicam rig that was strapped to Brolin’s body, allowing it to bob and weave with him, and the strain of carrying it combined with the concentration required to keep up the performance looks exhausting.
The featurette is definitely worth a watch, since the story of Oldboy is so focused on its main character that the remake could either rise or fall based on Josh Brolin’s performance. It’s an extremely demanding role, and one that has already been admirably performed by Choi Min-sik in the original film, but it’s also a very complex one that could be very interesting to watch when interpreted by another actor. Previous images from Lee’s film have hinted at the inclusion of an iconic and supremely gross scene from the original in which Choi ate a live octopus, but we’ll have to wait and see whether Brolin does the same or whether that was where they had to draw the line.
Finally, we have to give a shout-out to that amazing poster of Samuel L. Jackson as a maniacally friendly bellhop that’s on the wall in Joe’s room. “Welcome” indeed.
Oldboy will open in U.S. theaters on October 25th, 2013.
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