Oldboy - a loose adaptation of the graphic novel written by Garon Tsuchiya and illustrated by Nobuaki Minegishi - is the modern cult film classic that made director Chan-wook Park's name. The film is a harrowing portrayal of a man set free after twenty years of imprisonment by a mysterious figure, who then gives his captive a few days to determine the reason for his horrific "punishment" (lest he suffer even more). Much of the film's popularity can be attributed to its brutal content, squirm-inducing plot twists, and examination of the dark side of human emotions (such as love) - which is why a Hollywood remake has been viewed with a whole lot of skepticism.
The Americanized Oldboy re-interpretation was directed by Spike Lee and written by Mark Protosevich, with a cast that includes Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley, and Samuel L. Jackson. As you can see from the newly-released red band trailer, Lee's take on the story is (as promised) just as grimy and graphic as Park's vision, and his film recreates many of the shock-tastic moments in Park's movie. In fact, some of those memorable beats look to be even more gruesome, under Lee's watch (see how Brolin extracts information from Jackson).
Question is, will Lee's Oldboy treat its characters with as much sympathy as Park's film did, or get lost in the unpleasant details? After all, people sometimes seem to forget that Park's movie is more than an exercise in Korean "extreme" cinema, it's also one of the most humane portrayals of emotionally-damaged people - who are willing to commit detestable acts shunned by decent society - in recent memory.
Protosevich - whose screenwriting credits include I Am Legend and Thor - appears to have made some wise choices with his Oldboy script, which includes playing up how the newly-freed Brolin is motivated by the desire to protect his adult daughter (more than Park's film did, anyway). Similarly, having Olsen's character be a social worker - who encounters the homeless Brolin - may allow the events which follow to feel more believable and significant (given the American context).
Lee's recent directorial track record has been spotty (see: Miracle at St. Anna, Red Hook Summer), but he is still a master cinematic stylist and understands how to take familiar genre tropes and elevate them. Such movies as 25th Hour and Inside Man benefitted from Lee's filmmaking know-how, in addition to him largely staying away from the script writing (e.g. keeping his infamous cynical soap-box preaching to a minimum). That bodes well for Oldboy, especially when it comes to how Lee will re-invent moments like the famous hallway fisticuffs sequence in Park's interpretation (which is glimpsed in the trailer).
Oldboy will open in U.S. theaters on October 25th, 2013.
Source: Yahoo! Movies
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