The lack of promotional material for Oldboy, the long-gestating remake of South Korean maestro Park Chan-wook's revenge opus, has allowed director Spike Lee to keep the film well under-wraps leading into its fall 2013 release. But as October draws closer, the need for FilmDistrict to release some details about Lee's vision of Park's stunning, violent, tragic, deranged masterpiece grows greater and greater.
Good news, though: Oldboy's first teaser poster has been unveiled for fan appreciation. Additionally, a report from an early test screening has a lot to say about Lee's direction, the performances of the film's talented cast, the overall cringe-worthiness of the material, and octopi.
Taken on its own merits and with no context provided, the poster is an evocative, suggestive image that should make more sense upon a reading of the synopsis; fans will immediately be able to make the connection and understand what those scratch marks represent. There's no tagline, but the film has enough notoriety that the omission hardly matters.
Peruse the synopsis - and then check out the poster below:
An advertising executive is kidnapped and held hostage for 20 years in solitary confinement. When he is inexplicably released, he embarks on an obsessive mission to discover who orchestrated his punishment, only to find he is still trapped in a web of conspiracy and torment.
Until recently, few had seen footage of Lee's Oldboy - considering the poster is the first entry in the film's ad campaign - so at this point, audience reactions are especially attention-grabbing. The screening report hails from JoBlo, who claim that the feedback belongs to a "trusted source"; that's assurance enough, but it's worth stressing that any response from anonymous test screenings should be regarded with a degree of caution.
It may also go without saying that comments about the film are going to be VERY spoilery. For those who have seen Park's original, this isn't so much a problem; for the uninitiated, best stay away if you want to maintain purity - before seeing the film in theaters for yourselves. So, from this point on SPOILERS for Oldboy.
Still here? Check out the early screening reaction below:
There are only minor changes, with stuff like the prison sequence being longer and some tweaks to the ending. It’s not shot for shot by any means either, so if you see it, you should definitely expect things to be different and to cringe all over again…Much like the original, acts two and three are very sadistic and “wrong.”
If nothing else it sounds like Lee nailed the characters, but character is something he should be able to handle with relative easy. Great, well-drawn, complicated characters are expected from the filmmaker - and the players in Oldboy provide a solid foundation. For admirers of Park's film, the greater concern may be whether or not Lee has the chops to take on the darker, grimmer, more controversial elements of the story - Oldboy gets downright gruesome and uncomfortable when it needs to, and while Lee isn't a stranger to transgression in his movies, he doesn't craft pictures that call for the leads to cut out their own tongues.
On that score, it sounds like Lee has made a movie that equals its predecessor in graphic bloodshed and discomfiting imagery. The report describes Oldboy as "sadistic" as well as "wrong" and "as twisted and sick as the original." That's an impressive claim considering how far Park pushed the envelope in 2003 - especially if Lee really has upped the ante with the film's big, climactic twist/reveal. Also of interest: Lee has kept the hallway scene in the movie, but expanded on it by having Joe (Josh Brolin) fight multiple bad guys across numerous floors rather than one single location. Makes sense - there's little to gain in just copying Park's one-take approach for that particular sequence.
So maybe Lee has done Oldboy justice. Unfortunately, we have to wait seven months to find out, but this should tide us all over in the meantime. What's your take Screen Ranters? Does the report assuage your fears about the remake?
Spike Lee's Oldboy hits theaters October 11th, 2013.