Details On Spike Lee’s ‘Oldboy’: A ‘Departed’ Style Remake

Published 3 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 8:47 pm,

Detail on the Spike Lee Oldboy remake Details On Spike Lees Oldboy: A Departed Style Remake

Saying that the overall reaction to news of Spike Lee directing the Oldboy remake was a bit negative would be quite the understatement. To be fair, though, Hollywood’s plans to release a reworking of Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook’s cult classic revenge thriller (itself, based on a Japanese comic book) was poorly-received by fans from the get-go.

One of the most obvious examples that has already been cited as a counter-argument in favor of the Oldboy remake is Martin Scorsese’s multiple Oscar-winner, The Departed, which was an Americanized take on another cult classic piece of Asian cinema, Infernal Affairs.

Early reports indicate that Lee’s Oldboy will indeed go a route similar to that of The Departed. This revelation isn’t exactly shocking, since producers Roy Lee and Doug Davison worked (or will have worked) on both films, but it at least clears up the matter of the remake’s cultural setting.

Screenwriter Mark Protosevich (I Am Legend, Thor) will reportedly draw inspiration from both the original comic book and Chan-wook’s 2003 Oldboy film for the remake, the script for which is expected to be composed of around 20% brand new narrative material.

Here is how Twitch describes the structure for the Oldboy remake:

“… the goal here is not to create a slavish shot-for-shot remake but to take elements of [Chan-wook's film] combined with elements of the manga and completely re-envision and re-contextualize those to create a specifically American story around the same concepts and themes.”

What can we expect from Lee's version of 'Oldboy'?

The Americanization of Oldboy seems like a more reasonable task than, say, the Americanization of Akira, simply because the former’s themes (ex. the destructive cycle of revenge) and examination of the darker aspects of human nature are more universal and less tied to Asian history and culture. Again, it’s a situation fairly similar to The Departed, where screenwriter William Monahan and director Martin Scorsese successfully refashioned the all-too-familiar concept at the heart of Infernal Affairs (institutionalized corruption) within an American context.

While Lee as a filmmaker has long attracted controversy for his approach to the topics of racism and political inequality, some of his most popular works have managed to still deal with those issues – but simply on a more subtextual level (see: 25th Hour, Inside Man, Summer of Sam). Those pictures, in a sense, allowed Lee to have his cake and eat it too, by delivering less polarizing (and more lucrative) works that still touch on many of the topics the director is very passionate about.

That’s all to say: the Oldboy remake could conceivably mesh elements of a dark character study, brutal revenge thriller, and the sort of American social commentary that Lee is quite found of, in an effective manner that allows it to stand on its own. There’s no guarantee that the approach will work, but Lee is arguably more than capable enough of a director to pull it off.

Look to hear more about the Oldboy remake in the near future.

Source: Twitch

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  1. I am interested to see Spike Lee make a movie completely devoid of racial commentary. This is an opportunity for him to shine and show that he can work outside of the corner he has painted himself into.

  2. “take elements of [Chan-wook's film] combined with elements of the manga and completely re-envision and re-contextualize those to create a specifically American story around the same concepts and themes.”

    I don’t see this remake having the same elements of the manga, concepts and themes and be american at the same time. I’m not supporting this remake at all. Complete crap.

    • Keep that hope alive, Lee is not known for letting things go easily.

  3. Lee could pull off a decent version. He may be controversial but he knows how to direct a film.

    Interested to see the casting. I would liket to see Benicio Del Toro in the role of old boy.

    • I was thinking that too! Using the SoCal Hispanic Catholic religion backdrop would be a good idea I think, still don’t have a lot of faith in Lee though on this.

      • I don’t have a lot of faith either, but I like the idea of the so-cal backdrop

  4. This movie does not need to be made. Spike lee is just going to bog it down with more of his usual “I hate whitey” spew. And this is coming from a Black Man. I can’t stand this guy. Only movie of his I ever enjoyed was 25th Hour. I get so sick and tired of directors pushing some kind of unnecessary agenda where it doesn’t belong. You want to b!tch and moan about how Black folks have gotten the shaft continually for over 400 years in this country? Go make a Fvcking documentary and leave Comic/manga films alone you Hack.

    • With all do respect,Spike has gotten away from that stuff in his latest films,but I agree with you that this film doesn’t need to be made.

  5. I don’t think incest would be a suicidal/homicidal matter here in the U.S. the way it would be in Japan. Over there it has to do with being dishonored and losing face and all that stuff. You might go to therapy or something. Maybe beat the crap out of someone.

  6. I always thought Spike had a gift for directing action and I was pretty impressed with INSIDE MAN. I hate to compare remakes to originals but I would expect Spike to deliver something pretty solid.

  7. Hopefully Spike eventually realizes he should be directing a Black Panther movie… !!!

  8. This is gonna be terrible. Spike lee is a terrible choice for director and there’s no possible way that this movie would have americanized themes and still have the dark twist. Maybe David fincher could pull it off.