Review oldboy-2013

Published on December 18th, 2013 | by Allan Brown


Oldboy Remake Review


Movie Review: Oldboy (2013)oldboy-film-poster-josh-brolin-movie-review-world

Rating: 18

Running Time: 104 mins

Director: Spike Lee

Writers: Mark Protosevich, Garon Tsuchiya, Nobuaki Minegishi

Cast: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson, Sharlto Copley, Michael Imperioli

Plot: Obsessed with vengeance, a man sets out to find out why he was kidnapped and locked into solitary confinement for 20 years without reason.



Movie Review World

Director Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing) continues his reign of controversy with a retelling of Park Chan-Wook’s much revered Korean cult classic, Oldboy (Oldeuboi). Park’s original film is based on a 90s Japanese manga (comic) and although its tone and themes of revenge are unmistakably Asian, this did not hinder the film from going on to claim critical applaud from audiences worldwide, eventually wining the 2004 Cannes Gran Prix.
director spike lee image. movie review worldSo here we go again, another classic Asian film falling victim to the Hollywood remake system, where style and tone is generally lost in translation like the many that came before it, Dark Water, The Ring, The Grudge and The Eye, but with Oscar nominated director Spike Lee at the helm, surely we have nothing to worry about?

The film follows the basic plotline of the original. Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) is a cold, selfish, alcoholic advertising executive, whose career hangs on the thread of securing a deal with a wealthy client. When the deal turns sour, Doucett turns to the bottle, only to wake imprisoned in a sealed hotel room, complete with cheap furnishings and tacky wallpaper. For the next 20 years Doucette remains caged, staring at the same four walls, fed a staple diet of take away noodles and bottles of vodka, as he wrestles with abrupt realisation he has been framed for the murder of his ex-wife (as shown on his tv). Doucette ultimately hits rock bottom and gives up on life. However, it isn’t long before his focus shifts to his daughter and of course, revenge. With that in mind, Doucette begins building himself into a fighting machine as he starts to plot his escape.

Whether you want to call it a nod to the original or a re-imagined remake, Spike Lee’s Oldboy fails dramatically at both.

When he is curiously released after a shattering 20 year period, Doucette must find out why he was imprisoned, by whom and find his daughter (whose identity has not only been changed but has been lead to believe her father killed her mother) with the help of an old friend (Michael Imperioli) and a young nurse (Elizabeth Olsen).
josh brolin aslong haired Joe Doucett in spike lee's oldboy remakeWhether you want to call it a nod to the original or a re-imagined remake, Spike Lee’s Oldboy fails dramatically at both.

While it surely wasn’t Lee’s intention to make an inferior film to the original, sadly that is exactly what it is. It truly is a mess. It’s charmless, it doesn’t flow, lacks consistency, has some of the worst character acting (Sharlto Copley) in recent memory and is drab from start to finish.

What Lee has done is boiled the mechanics of the story down to its central points and skimmed off any of the operatic splendour, dark humour, poetic brutality and soul barring honesty the original boasted, leaving the film and its inhabitants utterly soulless.
Sharlto-Copley-as adrien in oldboy. movie review worldWe all know Josh Brolin can act, he has proven this time and time again and this to goes for nearly all the cast, but with the characters constrained by a lifeless script, they merely exist in each scene, like corpses, empty of any charisma or likeability. Indeed you would likely find more life in a tramps vest than anything Spike Lee has on offer here and as a result the film feels utterly bland.

Its tonal shifts from intense drama to the over sensational felt jarring and entirely misplaced. The dialogue felt like it was scribed by a child and some of villains (Sharlto Copley and Samuel L Jackson) were so laughably un-menacing it felt like they had just walked off the screen of a Hanna and Barbara Cartoon.

The film is an action, drama, mystery and considering its main narrative, we as an audience should be gripped to our seats, as we take this intense journey with Doucette, as he solves the mystery of his kidnapping one step at a time. Instead, the journey is nothing more than a laborious test of patience, that never seems to end.

Check out the Oldboy Trailer here

Oldboy Remake Review Allan Brown


Summary: Apart from the odd inspired tracking shot, there is not a lot on offer here, and when all is said and done what Spike Lee’s Oldboy delivers, is one of the most painful cinematic experiences I have endured this year. It could be said with a firm degree of accuracy, that Spike Lee did indeed get Lost in Translation.



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About the Author

Despite my 9-5 being consumed by the daily duties of an Electrician, Movie Review World serves as a platform for me to share my thoughts, explorations and reflections on one of my biggest passions, film.

3 Responses to Oldboy Remake Review

  1. Mark Walker says:

    Haha! More life in a tramps vest, you say! Noted! 😉
    I’m really not surprised at your scornful take on this though, man. An Oldboy remake was always going to find it hard to compete with the original.

  2. CMrok93 says:

    It’s more of an interesting remake, than actually a good one. However, the original will always stand the test of time, no matter how many times somebody tries to re-create the same magic from it. Good review.

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