I had a feeling it was going to be this tonight, after missing Carrie last week due to illness I had kind of hoped it would be a good one but I was indeed disappointed as a couple of my favorite actors ruined one of my favorite movies.
Oldboy was my part of my introduction in the dark word of Asian cinema, after renting/buying quite a few of the Tartan Asia Extreme movies this fast became one of my favorites along with the other two in the brilliant vengeance trilogy from Chan-wook Park (just on a side note JSA, Thirst and Stoker are also wonderful). So was I excited when I heard that this would be remade for an American audience? No I was less than thrilled.
I find Spike Lee incredibly overrated but I like Josh Brolin and I have liked Sharlto Copley in most of the things he has done. I decided to set my prejudice aside and try to enjoy the movie as if I had never seen the original but it wasn’t long before I was making comparisons. The decided to mess with the original story a fair but and I feel like I should prolly go back and watch the original again before even writing this review but we will push on none the less.
If you haven’t seen either movie stop reading now because the original is a masterpiece and has one of the best twists in modern cinema, the remake follows the same sort of line but changes a few things which I will be disclosing.
The movie starts well, Joe (Brolin) is a fairly unlikable so it comes as no surprise when someone wants to punish him. The scenes in which his is imprisoned are played well but lack the complexity of the original, there is no music to accompany the gas and the hypnotism scenes are completely omitted. The whole thing is also overly long, it is the main bulk of the movie leaving little time for the mystery part.
The other standout scene for me was the epic hallway hammer fight, in the original it’s gritty, clumsy and real and Daesu takes an absolute beating. All of the participants look thoroughly exhausted/hurt and in the remake Joe is transformed into some sort of kung fu super hero during his imprisonment (he also doesn’t age a day) I guess those extra 5 years really make all the difference.
Now on to the major downfall of the movie which was trundling along nicely in its americanized format, I hadn’t found too much to hate yet. That is until we were introduced to our villan. In the original Lee was slick, ever so slightly unhinged and hell-bent or revenge in Spike Lees remake we are treated to Adrian who is camp, comical and completely out-of-place. Whats with the accent? it has no menace, no mystery and no hope. The whole set up around our hero finding our villan now seems to be dominated by diamond rather than vengeance and what was a slightly twisted tale of incest in the original becomes a full-blown pantomime in the remake.
The story was sick enough and when you take it too far it doesn’t get sicker it just gets silly.
I hated Copleys performance and I couldn’t take anything seriously when he was on-screen it made a mockery of the whole movie and it was so badly judged that it made a shambles of something that might have just been passable otherwise. I have no idea what the motivation for this was but it really didn’t work.
This movie didn’t need to be made in the first place and what they did to it is an absolute crime