Josh Brolin is currently out doing the media junket rounds for his starring role in Men in Black 3, but there are plenty of questions to be answered about a different project the actor is headlining: Spike Lee's upcoming remake/re-interpretation of the manga (Japanese comic book) Oldboy, which was adapted into the hit 2003 Korean by director Chan-wook Park.
Park's Oldboy has amassed a serious cult-following since its initial release, which is part of the reason why there has been such strong backlash ever since an American version of Old Boy was announced - and then, greater backlash when that news was followed up by the announcement that controversial director Spike Lee was helming the remake.
It seems that Brolin is aware of all the concern surrounding his new film, and took on the questions in regards to the issue, during the press junket for MIB3. /Film recorded the following quotes about Oldboy from the No Country for Old Men star:
Oldboy? Literally you say Oldboy and my stomach just goes Grrrrrr [mimics twisting and turning]. Oldboy will be an experience, man. It wont be like Men In Black, I’ll tell you that much. I’m really happy about it. We’ve gotten amazing actors: Liz Olsen, who I think is fantastic and we also got Sharto Copley from District 9 who I think is going to be unbelievable. He just wrote me an e-mail and was like, ‘Look, I’ve got to get this out of the way. Dude, Goonies is my favorite film of all time,’ which I thought was really sweet. And now I’m going to make 20 years of your life miserable.
Oldboy tells the story of a man named Joe Douchett (Brolin) who is locked in a room for over a decade by a sadistic billionaire named Adrian Pryce (Sharlto Copley). Pryce eventually sets Douchett free, and orders him to uncover the reason for his "punishment" within in a set span of time, or suffer further torment. Joe recruits the help of a sympathetic social worker (Elizabeth Olsen) and heads off into the seedy underbelly of the city to find his answers.
Park's film had a number of now-iconic sequences - including actor Min-sik Choi eating a live squid on camera (still haven't recovered from that visual) and an impressively long tracking shot of Choi fighting a narrow hallway full of opponents with nothing but a hammer in hand. Regarding if they will keep some of those iconic moments in the new version - specifically the hammer fight - Brolin said the following:
Yes, by the way. Yes. And it’s a hammer and knife and all that stuff. And then will we keep the octopus, will we keep the other stuff? There’s some changes but I think it’s really good. It still makes me throw down the script half way through. Whoa.
Finally, in regards to whether or not Park supported this new take on the story:
I love Oldboy and I’m close with Chan-wook Park and I emailed him a couple months ago, just asking for his blessing to do this movie becuase if he had said ‘No,’ I wouldnt have done it. But I really respect his movie and we’ll make a little different movie and this whole idea of a more Hollywood version of it? Whatever. We’re just going to make a different version but have respect to the initial story and premise. I’m looking forward to it, man. I’m talking about it nervously right now because it makes me nervous.
Josh Brolin has proven himself as a great leading man and actor in the 21st century (we'll ignore Jonah Hex) and it seems like he has respect for the material that this film is drawing from. If he is in the pool with both feet, I see no reason not to be optimistic. We know that Lee and Co. will change the story a bit to reflect more American themes, and that the dark climax of the Korean version will be even darker in this American one. Sounds like a right mix of old and new to me.
We'll keep you updated on the status of Oldboy as the film heads into production this fall.