Remake, a term it must vanish from Hollywood. Why this term used so often? Did they run out of ideas to direct a film? Sure, it’s a wise decision to remake something from the original. There are so many remake films. Some of them are good when you understand what you remake. But, what is this? A remake of the legendary piece of Park Chan-wook. Regarded as one of the best Korean films of all time, Spike Lee’s “Oldboy” reaps a lot of protest and controversy. Aside from Park Chan-wook who is able to direct brutality in movies, not as a template, big doubts arise in this remake. Spike Lee, as we know, is a great director. He won so many awards at the Oscar. However, we know him for his trademark with the theme of social and political issues.
As much as possible, Lee tries to get out of his comfort zone. But, it would be better if he stayed rather than following the trend of this Hollywood. This film, in the end, failed miserably both in quality and financially. Not surprising. The story focuses on Josh Brolin as Joe Doucett, a drunk man. We know the story, right? His drunk hobby got his job didn’t go well. Joe stays in a motel-like room without knowing the reason why he locked up.
After spending 20 years living with only television as his best friend, Joe suddenly released again without knowing the reason why he was free. Furthermore, Joe tried to find out who the mastermind behind all this including his efforts to meet again with his daughter. In his search, Joe assisted by a medical officer named Elizabeth Olsen as Marie Sebastian. We know the twist and the shot besides not changing the outline. Some things changed in a way.
This mainstream American “Oldboy” is actually, the original, is a thick mystery drama that ultimately raises a surprising twist. It’s kind of like “Se7en” but this is Korean filmmaking. Those of you who have watched the original movie may not interest or bound by the mystery in this remake. Desperate efforts on Spike Lee and Mark Protosevich gave the difference between a remake of the original film. An additional twist doesn’t change or impact the plot at all. Although some of them felt quite fresh and surprising, Lee tried to improvise here. In the end, things we don’t understand are always full of essence.
The original Chan-wook’s “Oldboy” isn’t just a thriller full of violence and twist. Violence has reasons and essence. It’s indeed necessary why a film about revenge or truth-seeking is carried out by injured people. You turn one of the most innocent characters into one of the most psychopathic characters. The surprise of the remake is just trying as much as possible to make the audience shocked without giving emotional depth. The significant emotion then only acted sassily and quite tarnished the status of a timeless cult-classic. What we got in the original “Oldboy” is such a moment. You can count it such as cutting the tongue scene, the reveal, the tooth release scene, and the spectacular one-shot corridor scene. However, what we have is that some of them only impresses like cartoonist besides wanting to be better and different from its original.
This remake is so ridiculous for memorable scenes in the original version. I don’t know but it seems like, Spike Lee wasn’t so happy when interviewed about this film. When compared to his interview with “BlacKkKlansman“, he was so excited when talking about the film. “Oldboy” like seeing a fighting video game you can come with. In fact, it’s better to play a fighting game than watching this movie. In addition to the many differences Lee lost in this remake, the depth of emotions in its character didn’t trigger anything. There is no clear motive why one of the best villains ever, Woo-jin Lee, is bound by inner conflict. Whereas in this film, it’s better to see Samuel L. Jackson tortured by the expression of the Samuel L. Jackson style.
Josh Brolin himself isn’t exactly bad. It’s just that, his character can’t be compared with Choi Min-sik. Elizabeth Olsen itself is quite satisfying with not too much portion. In the end, Spike Lee tried to show an interpretation of his own version. One important thing in this film is its effort to stand-out the difference from its original. “Oldboy” is a stand-alone misinterpretation but fails when compared to the original Korean version. This remake is not a bad film but can still be enjoyed by anyone. However, it has become the essence that remakes are very irrelevant in Hollywood. Just why? Why modify the new one again if the original is good? Just leave it alone. Moreover, the original film was an extraordinary film. Just why Hollywood?
2.5 out of 5 stars.