[Update: Spike Lee has been confirmed as the director of the Oldboy remake. Click Link for Details.]
No stranger to controversy or handling provocative subject matter, Spike Lee may have found his next directorial effort in the form of Mandate’s Oldboy remake.
This new comes just within a week of Lee’s discussion with THR about how the Oscar-nominated filmmaker has been unable to get a directing project going for some three years now, ever since his war drama Miracle at St. Anna was a critical and financial dud back in 2008.
Rumblings about a remake of Korean director Park Chan-wook 2003 Oldboy movie (which was based on the Japanese comic book by Nobuaki Minegishi) has been ongoing for years now. Just last year, Oscar-winners like Steven Spielberg and Danny Boyle were shortlisted to helm the project.
According to Twitch, Lee is now in talks to oversee the Oldboy remake, working from a script penned by I Am Legend and Thor scriber Mark Protosevich. Will Smith was reportedly eying the film as a starring vehicle back in the day, but there’s no word yet on whether or not he would still be interested.
For those not familiar with Chan-wook’s Oldboy adaptation: That film revolves around one Oh Dae-Su (Choi Min-sik), a man who is held prisoner in a hotel room for 15 years without any explanation from his captors. When he is finally released, Dae-Su sets out on a bloody quest for vengeance, befriending and romancing a young sushi chief (Kang Hye-jeong) along the way. However, it turns out that Dae-Su’s mysterious enemy (Yu Ji-tae) has a far more disturbing fate in mind for his victim than merely death.
An excellent example of the “extreme” style of contemporary Korean cinema, Oldboy was critically-acclaimed for its undaunted examination of the dark side of human nature and won the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, when Quentin Tarantino served as the President of the festival’s jury. It has since become a cult-classic, standing out as arguably the most admired and well-known entry in Chan-wook’s Vengeance Trilogy.
Needless to say, the idea of a Hollywood remake has never been all that popular with Oldboy fans; the gruesome nature of the subject matter and storyline alone make it near impossible to envision a studio-sanctioned remake being anything but a heavily-diluted (re: dramatically weaker) variation on Chan-wook’s adaptation.
Lee’s potential involvement with the Oldboy remake is bound to pique the interest of fans, simply because (as mentioned before) he’s one of those directors whose work has often polarized audiences – in no small part due to his filmmaking style and topics of choice (racism, separation of classes, institutionalized corruption, etc.). So, in that sense, he could be the perfect choice to try and recapture the power of Chan-wook’s original film, for a relatively more mainstream American audience.
We’ll keep you posted on the status of the Oldboy remake as more information is released.