Oldboy is my favorite film of all time. That might not mean much to you, but as a person who has created a semi-successful Asian film site, that statement should hold a bit of weight. With that in mind, I set my expectation fairly low and they were met. This 2013 remake is not a remake at all, but a slight representation of the original. The camera style is completely unique. At times, it’ll feel like a guerilla style of filmmaking. And in particular, there is an incredible fight sequence that feels like a 2D style beat-em up video game with how it’s shot in what appears to be a single take, it’s different, unique, and absolutely incredible. The acting is superb on all fronts, each actor embodies their role, no matter how psychotic things get. The soundtrack is also top notch with a score that certainly fit’s the emotional levels on the film. But, most importantly are the twists. This movie takes you for such a ride, one that’ll I wish I could experience again with my memory completely wiped because of how good it was. It is in the realm of Fight Club in terms of how great the twists are, if not better.
The original film’s complex themes revolve around social commentary regarding Asian nationalism, politics, incest, private prisons, as well as taboo cultural mores and motivations. Obviously, American audiences couldn’t handle the incest and drama, so the film takes a different turn. The derivative nature of Lee’s picture would be tolerable if the film itself was well-crafted from start to finish. Unfortunately, its second half is seriously troubled. Lee’s remake will strike a cord with unfamiliar audiences, but, for the most part, if you already know the resolution, it deflates all the potential mystery and drama.
Lee’s remake is more accessible, characterizes his protagonist stronger: a disillusioned cynic of the repulsive nature, ends his alcoholism in two decades baseless solitary confinement and vowed to improve. His brain is mush, the body steel . But redemption means destruction, and we get plenty. If I know the movie going public who go in droves to see films like Thor and The Help, this flick will traumatize most of its viewers with its harrowing & absolutely sickening depiction of revenge.
In all, was I disappointed? Well, sure, but only because the original is a masterpiece and quite frankly, Lee hasn’t made a great movie since 25th Hour. So if I had to dissect the film; first as a one-person psychoanalysis prison drama, then as a thriller-puzzle with family tragedy always exceeds authority limits and burns the fact in the synapses – ultimately it comes: learn empathy through stark self-awareness , which here in the illusion and self-selected isolation leads, far more explicit and thrilling, but less hallucinatory and ludicrous than Park. A compelling story that kept your interest until it completely blew you away with it’s outstanding acting, but comes up short with its shotty direction and predictable plot. I’m glad this film happened, but what would it have ended up being if Spielberg and Will Smith got their hands on it instead of Spike?