Fans of Asian cinema will probably remember hearing the news awhile back that Chan-wook Park's Korean masterpiece, Oldboy, was getting a remake, with Steven Spielberg as the director and Will Smith as the star, no less. The project went along for some time but thankfully we eventually got word that Spielberg and Smith's the Oldboy remake was dead in the water, reportedly because "the big guns" in the deal - i.e. Dreamworks (where Mr. Spielberg resides) - walked away from the table because they and studio Mandate couldn't see eye-to-eye.
A sigh of relief for Asian film fans everywhere, right?
Well everything might be fine on the Oldboy front, but now we learn that Hollywood has targeted a close friend of that movie - yes, that's right, a remake of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is on its way, courtesy of Warner Bros.
Variety reports the news of the Mr. Vengeance remake, letting us know that WB has nabbed the rights to it and has already attached a writer to the project in the form of Brian Tucker. Tucker hasn't written anything that's been made yet, with only the upcoming Broken City on his resume. I guess we can't really judge him too harshly, but we can wonder why the studio didn't hire someone with a better track record...
The project has already gotten itself a group of producers in the form of Lorenzo di Bonaventura (Transformers, G.I. Joe) and Mark Vahradian (who are both at di Bonaventura Pictures); Miky Lee and Ted Kim at CJ Entertainment (who recently produced Chan-wook Park's vampire flick, Thirst); and Steven Schneider (Paranormal Activity exec producer) at Room 101.
There's no more information on the Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance remake, including the all-important question of who's going to try and give original director Chan-wook Park a run for his money. All I can say is good luck to whoever it is, because Park is easily one of the best and most creative directors in the business - in ANY language. I just wonder if the remake will be as full-on as the original, particularly when it comes to the violence and torture scenes. The original is quite grizzly at times, and I can only speculate that the Hollywood version will dumb it down somewhat.
In case you're not familiar with the film (and if you aren't, I highly recommend you seek it out), Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance kicked off the "Vengeance trilogy," and was followed by "spiritual sequels" Oldboy and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance. All three are astonishing pieces of work, and Mr. Vengeance is probably the grittiest of the three (Lady Vengeance is the most stylish, and Oldboy perfectly merges those two types).
The story is of a deaf man and his girlfriend who decide to kidnap his boss's young daughter in order to get the ransom money to pay for a kidney transplant the man's sister needs. However, when the daughter ends up dead the father seeks out revenge and from then on things spiral out of control (violence begets violence and all that). It's a tough watch but well worth it.
I'm not as mad that they're remaking Mr. Vengeance as I was about Oldboy, but I still don't like it. My hope is that they bring on a director who has proven him/herself - perhaps someone like David Fincher or Christopher Nolan (I'm dreaming here, I know).
(Quick note: In Variety's article they list the Oldboy remake as still being on the way, courtesy of Mandate (who was going to make it with Dreamworks before the latter walked away) and Vertigo. We'll keep you informed if that's indeed the case or not.)
What is your reaction to the news that WB is remaking Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance? Does it make you as mad as the news of an Oldboy remake? Who would you like to see direct the remake?
Source: Variety (thanks to Coming Soon)