Spike Lee Directing ‘Oldboy’

Published 4 years ago by , Updated October 16th, 2013 at 6:06 am,

spike lee oldboy distributor Spike Lee Directing Oldboy

Mandate Pictures has confirmed the previous reports that Spike Lee is directing the Oldboy remake. Around the Web, many fans of Park Chan-wook’s Korean-language adaptation of the Japanese comic book are already starting to voice their concern – or disdain – for both this particular choice in director, and the fact that an Oldboy remake is happening at all.

So does having Spike Lee at the helm of a remake of a cult-classic foreign film spell doom? Or might Lee surprise all of his doubters?

Right now there aren’t enough details to say for sure whether this remake is a going to be a stillborn babe, or perhaps a new and refreshingly original approach to the material. All we have to go on is the brief press release from Mandate Pictures:

Mandate Pictures announced today that Spike Lee (Inside Man) will direct OLDBOY, a remake of the highly-acclaimed South Korean film. Mark Protosevich has adapted the screenplay and will co-produce. Roy Lee and Doug Davison (The Departed, The Grudge) will produce. The film is a Vertigo Entertainment/40 Acres & A Mule Production. Mandate President Nathan Kahane will executive produce.

“It’s a great honor to put this special project into the hands of such a gifted writer and iconic director,” said Kahane.

With no stars attached, it’s hard to say whether or not Lee will indeed be transforming the nature of Oldboy’s story – about a man imprisoned by unseen captors for 15 years before setting out on a quest for bloody revenge – into an “urban tale” that sits in league with many of his other films (Do The Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Summer of Sam, 25th Hour, etc…), or if he will stick closer to the source material and keep the Asiatic setting and characters intact. It could conceivably be a combination of the two, if you really think about it (urban American setting, Asian characters).

Spike Lee courts a LOT of controversy for some of his more outspoken off-camera views on everything from race to politics (who’d think those would be controversial subjects?); However, those who tend to label the filmmaker “a hack” (or worse) are somewhat in denial of his talent behind the camera. For a fun exercise, take a look at the sharp photography and vividly rich cinematography of Do The Right Thing, and then remind yourself that this movie was released in 1989. Visually speaking, Lee was a filmmaker ahead of his time.

I say all that to say: this Oldboy remake could turn out to be a well-crafted vision of the source material – especially if Lee focuses on telling THE story, as opposed to trying to tell one of HIS well-branded “joints.” The fact that Lee has struggled to put out a movie since 2008 (the poorly-received Miracle at St. Anna) probably has him in more of a…collaborative spirit at this point. Here’s hoping.

Of course, a fraction of those reading this won’t even read far enough to consider these points – the words “Oldboy” and “Spike Lee” in the title together will be enough to set them off. C’est la vie.

We’ll keep you updated about the progress of (here it comes) Spike Lee’s Oldboy as we hear it.

Source: Mandate Pictures

TAGS: Oldboy
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  1. Bah. Not cool. Spike has a habit of alienating ppl by making all his movies about race and then calling out directors (Eastwood) for being racist.

    His best films have been those that don’t take on race, Inside Man and 25th Hour. Hope he goes the same route.

    All in all, I was hoping for a more talented director to tackle Oldboy, which is an amazing, unforgettable film.

    • 25th hour doesn’t necesarily take on race but there is a scene in the movie where monty (edward norton) goes off on several races… Cursing them out and saying what he doesn’t like about them. He does curse himself out at the end but that doesn’t necesarily make it better either lol. Either way i’m curious to see his version of “OldBoy”.

    • Something Martin Scorcese doesnt’ do? Yeah Scorcese never does that.

  2. I dont hate or love Lee, so i have no problem with this.

    As for Oldboy, i have seen this movie a total of 2 times, and i have to say that the first half of this movie is AWESOME yet i am always let down by the second half. The reveal at the end is not all that shocking but whatevs, it is still a good movie.

  3. I like Spike a lot and Oldboy is amongst my favorite films. However, that being said, I feel this particular combination can only spell doom. First of all why are they even remaking Oldboy? I don’t see a reason for it. And if they’re trying to Americanize it, I don’t see why they chose Spike for this project. He is well-known for the type of films he tends to make and I can’t imagine him wanting to shoot this anywhere other than NY and I don’t see how you can “urbanize” this kind of a film. I can’t possibly imagine dudes in the hood going to these lengths to hurt a man. They’d just shoot him.
    But with my thoughts regarding this aside, I will stay tuned cause I’m simply far too curious.

    • Remember when “urban” didn’t automatically mean “hood” or “black” but actually meant, you know, “the city”?

      This is a film that could def be set in a city like NYC and still be very good. Will Spike Lee take it there, and make it good? I can’t say yet. But sound like we’ll see soon enough if he can…

      • @Kofi, Thanks for saying that. The implications of “Urban” always means Black or Hispanic to most people , which it shouldn’t. ;( Spike Lee can be a real douche at times and say some things that are uncalled for or should have never been said but he still is an undeniably great director. What he said about Tyler Perry is in some ways true but Spike has also done some questionably buffoonery racial stuff too. Not only that,but Spike should NOT have gone public with his angst and statements towards Tyler Perry’s work and just approached Perry himself and talk to HIM about it instead, maybe even collaborate. My friend was an extra in Jungle Fever(the newspaper boy), he said Spike is an imp and a douchbag but he’s talented and knows what he’s doing. As far as the racial stuff, yeah enough with stuff BUT IF WE’RE GOING TO GET ON SPIKE LEE ABOUT IT, THEN MARTIN SCORCESE DESERVES SOME CRITICISM TOO.

  4. Spike Lee is a horrible director; forgetting what a waste of space he is. So he lucked into having a few good shots in a movie from the 80′s, so what. Anyone with a camera is going to sooner or later take a couple of good shots. It’s just simple math. He has no talent and that is why he does cause so much controversy. The only reason anyone puts up with him is because they’re afraid that if they call him out he’ll label them a racist. He is as bad or worse than Mel Gibson. In fact, if he was white he would have already been blacklisted like Mel Gibson. They’re both so full of themselves and hate, but at least Mel Gibson does have talent. How many awards has Spike Lee won, or how many films of his have been really successful. People are tired of morons like him and they are starting to show that with their pocketbooks. The worst thing about this whole thing is that a movie like “Oldboy” has to suffer from being directed by him. It’s kind of like having to be partners with a bully in school. No one forgave Mel Gibson when he said what he said, we shouldn’t forgive this idiot. People like Lee and Gibson are both bad examples of their race.

  5. Do the right thing has good cinematography, but that’s not enough. Oldboy has culture in its story and specially the end. How would that make sense in the remake?
    Oldboy is also Chan-wook Park’s style all the way through. I don’t picture spikes version to be any good because HE is not Chan-wook Park. When Italians made good westerns, no one remade their films 8 years later, did they? Roy Lee and Doug Davison should leave Korean films alone.

  6. It’s hard for me to believe that the film Malcomb X wasn’t mentioned in this article. Nonetheless, I think Spike Lee is a great director. I’ve never seen Oldboy, but I have seen a lot of love for the film. I just hope Lee can do it justice.

    • Kahless,

      I know right! They forget how many flicks he’s done and for how long. I personally loved Miracle at Santa Ana.
      People also forget tht 95% of Spike’s films have white cast who aren’t relegated to token sidekicks like what happens in the reverse.
      There’s a certain cat who played in a certain Summer Blockbuster film about robots who got his start with Spike.
      He’s directed some of Denzel’s BEST work and it’s not like he’s a horrible actor.
      Having said all that, I’m not sure i’d like to see the movie remade either. I’ll go see it to support Spike, but i’ll probably cringe the whole time knowing how it turns out.. yuck!

    • HE CANNOT – no one can. Watch the original, which is a masterpiece, then ask yourself why anyone would remake it.

  7. film was garbage manga was better everyone is happy

    • manga ending was garbage film was better yes i very happy thankyou

  8. NO NO NO. These guys have No Shame

  9. He seems ok. obviously id rather it wasnt made at all, but he’s a better choice than steven spielberg. that was dumb

  10. BS.

  11. I’ll re-post what I put on Facebook:

    I bet it will end up being PG-13 and the Father will have a platonic relationship with his daughter and the big reveal never actually happened and was only a rumor.

    No way they keep the original film’s ending.

  12. Doom, definitely doom ..

  13. DISGUSTING! American directors have NO TALENT and must rip off asian horror! So sick of it, especially the butchery of One missed Call…


  15. Oh, well, The Departed turned out ok. I agree with Hollywood leaving these Asian flicks alone but I do see the potential for Hollywood to do THE RIGHT THING(pun inteded) and GIVE MORE ASIAN-AMERICAN ACTORS WORK. Most of these Asian to American adaptations have important Asian culture that gets “Lost in Translation” so to speak when adapted for an American audience, so they lose allot of story character development and TONE. I say keep the themes Asian but “Asian-Americanize” theme AND add a sprinkle or too of a non-Asian or A-list cast “IF” needed.

  16. @acslaterson I agree with everything you said. There’s almost no chance they will keep the key plot points in this film the same. And if they take out the (spoiler alert)

    incest, and the reveal of it, the entire point of the film is invalidated. I’m sure in the remake, they’ll completely change the motivation behind the main character being imprisoned. There’s no way whatever reason they come up with for the imprisonment could be better, and more shocking, than what’s in the original film. It’s why when we find out what the twist is, the man who kidnapped him’s line to the main character, that the real question he should be asking him is, not why he was kidnapped but why he’s been let out now, so powerful.

  17. The title of this article enraged me, but then I actually read it and saw it from a different point of view. There are some glimmers of hope for this remake. Firstly, Spike Lee is a sucker for controversy so the source material is right up his alley and he has a good enough knack for dramas and thrillers. Hopefully as someone who is so focused on race he won’t shoot himself in the foot and take away some of the original cultural background. Also, his career has been spotty lately so maybe he’s a bit hungrier for success and open to collaboration. And lastly, he has a ton of support behind him (executive producers, writers, co-producers, and producers) who will hopefully keep him focused on the main task at hand: telling an emotional, suspenseful, and visceral story. It won’t simply be a Spike Lee “joint” and I don’t think it will be as bad as say…One missed call, etc.

  18. Spike Jonze maybe! Not Spike Lee! One of the worst possible choices for a director. :(

  19. Ugh why mess with such a beautiful movie and make a sequel that can not even come close to being as respectable. There is no actor in Hollywood who can play Oh-daesu nearly as well as choi man-suk. This is why I hate America and it’s far inferior film industry.

  20. STUPID Spike Lee. He was going to use WILL SMITH to remake OLDBOY? What a JOKE, what a loser, what a ridiculous NOTHING.

  21. Hollywood is know for churning out remakes, so what if the GREAT Mr. Lee is doing a remake. Gotta give him a salute for having the nerve to get down.
    I know one thing for sure “film critics” are no more than wanna be directors.