HANDS OFF, HOLLYWOOD!
Yes. I said it. Hollywood–hands off Oldboy! Earlier this week I learned that Spike Lee had been confirmed to remake/direct Chan-wook Park’s 2003’s thriller. I thought about this for a moment and wondered just what this potential for a remake would mean to me. The result–I am disappointed. I am an avid fan of original South Korean cinema because of the filmmaker’s ability to present a story through to its fruition, even if the result isn’t favorable. Let’s face it–Hollywood teems with films that force moviegoers to believe in the hero always wins–or give us the illusion that we are living in a perfect world. We don’t. If so, we would not have to endure “film remakes!”
We are already suffering from a deluge of poorly scripted remakes, and the remakes just keep on coming. It all started with the remake of Ju-on, a 2002 Japanese horror written and directed by Takashi Shimizu. The film is about a curse–a curse created in the house of a murdered housewife. Anyone who visited the home was subjected to horrible and gory murder scenes and tormented by a pale child with huge black eyes, with the remake–The Grudge (2004) starring former Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Sara Michelle Geller. The critics over at Rotten Tomatoes rated the American remake at 40%, but it made a lot of money. That’s the bottom line.
I know that there is a lot of money to be made from remakes. For this reason, alone we will have to endure continually what mainstream studios put out. When will moviegoers begin to demand better quality films, equal to the amount of money we pay to watch?
I celebrated Smith and Spielberg’s abandonment of the project. I knew the Oldboy reboot would come nowhere near the controversial subject matter that made Chan-Wook Park’s 2003 revenge thriller breathtakingly real, dark, humorous, thought to provoke, and so viscerally intense–when the twisted tale was over, it left you with a philosophical ending to ponder.
Oldboy, the one film we all know should never be considered a remake. Hollywood, enough already. Face it, you are too afraid to go that deep. I won’t for a moment consider any remake of South Korea’s series of revenge dramas in the hands of any Western director. Not even all the genius of the Do the Right Thing, the 1989 socially reflective film by director Spike Lee, or any Western director could come close to taking on this type of film genre. Here is the press release from Mandate Pictures:
Los Angeles (July 11, 2011) – Mandate Pictures announced today that Spike Lee (Inside Man) will direct OLDBOY, a remake of the highly-acclaimed South Korean film. Mark Protosevich has adapted the screenplay and will co-produce. Roy Lee and Doug Davison (The Departed, The Grudge) will produce. The film is a Vertigo Entertainment/40 Acres & A Mule Production. Mandate President Nathan Kahane will executive produce.
“It’s a great honor to put this special project into the hands of such a gifted writer and iconic director,” said Kahane.
OLDBOY tells the story of a man who is kidnapped and imprisoned on his daughter’s birthday. For fifteen years, he is held captive, and, upon his release, must begin his journey to find the reason for his imprisonment. He soon finds out that his kidnapper has plans for him more tortuous than his solitary confinement. The original film, released in 2003, directed by Chan-wook Park won the Grand Prize Jury Award at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.
Since Lee is set to direct the movie, and Mark Protosevich has created the adapted version of it (20% of the new film is new material), the question is who will be starring in Min-sick Choi’s riveting lead role. It’s been rumored to be Josh Brolin. If anyone is familiar with the arduous tasks presented before for Min-sik’s character “Dae-su,” I have to wonder just how much of the character has been modified? Will there be a revamped “hammer” scene? Will viewers get to see that same stick used during the jaw-clenching tooth removal scene? These are only a couple of the most poignant and memorable scenes in the original film.
Will fans, dedicated to the original Oldboy film line up for the potentially “softer” version of the movie? Only time will tell. Just be prepared for the elaborate trailers, “special scene footage,” and all the CGI-enhanced montages that reveal themselves long before the film opens–a psychologically cunning effort by Hollywood, to lead the masses into the theaters.
I just had another frightening thought…what if, the new Oldboy film, be made in 3D? I shudder to think even of it.
Below is a fan-made trailer for the original Oldboy film by DrewboIX. He captured a few of the most intense action scenes ever to be featured on film. This will give you an idea of the nearly impossible challenge, replicating this South Korean masterpiece for Western audiences. I advise those unfamiliar with Chan-wook Park 2003 film to view it while you still have a chance.