8/30/11

New Life In Old Boy?: The Remake with a Right to Live

For the better part of the last five years, there has been rumblings on one level or another about remaking  Chan-wook Park's 2003 film Oldboy. Now nearly everyone I know (if not everyone) who has seen the film, has fallen into a range with the film from "Really Liked" to "a Modern Classic:" I fall into the later of these two categories, and often find myself re-watching Dae-su's arduous adventure. So when in the past Hollywood bandied around pairings like Fast and the Furious director Justin Lim with Paul Walker, Steven Spielberg and star Will Smith, or David Lynch featuring Betty White in the title role. (Enough already people, we know White is a national treasure, but seriously.) Lead character Dae-su says in the film, " Even though I'm no more than a monster - don't I, too, have the right to live?" In this case, the reanimated creature known as the Hollywood remake might just have a right to life.

Now comes the news that the new hotness changing the title slightly to the spaced out Old Boy, casting Josh Brolin in the lead, and putting Spike Lee behind the camera. To this I say, do it. Lee proved in 2006 with Inside Man that he could handle a tense dramatic story that still contained a fair amount of action, and, as usual with Lee's film's, it was incredibly well composed visually. The same can be said of 2008's Miracle at Santa Anna, but Spike Lee goes WWII didn't work out as well on the screen or at the box office. In recent years, he's worn a documentarian's hat more often than not, but I have full faith that he could do the story justice. The only thing that gives me pause is the script by Thor, The Cell, and I Am Legend, Mark Protosevich, who apparently is also penning the unnecessary Jurassic Park IV.  Protosevich strikes me as a hired gun, and it seems an odd base for the film unless he sticks to a strict adaptation.

Now let me get back to the film's star, Josh Brolin. While Brolin goes back all the way to The Goonies for me, it's been in recent years that he's really come into his own as an actor. With turns in No Country for Old Men, Planet Terror, W., Milk, and True Grit, Brolin has been on a roll (duds Wall Street:Money Never Sleeps  and Jonah Hex not withstanding.) If there's any actor out there right now that  I would be more happy about filling Min-sik Choi's shoes (and wild hair), it's Brolin. All one has to do is watch the emotional depths he plumbs in No Country to see that he's the right man for the job.

So right about now you're probably wondering when this is going to turn and I'm going to reveal this support for a classic film being remade as a ruse. Well, I hate to disappoint, but it's not going to happen. There's still plenty of time for this all to blow up or go away, but for once I'm not going to be the naysayer. For years I've been filled with dread with it comes to this remake, but, for once, Oldboy gets to be associated with hope for a change.

Check out the trailer for the original if you haven't seen the flick, and let your mind explore the possibilities.

6 comments:

  1. My only reservation is they are going whitewash the shit out of this story if you take out the more unsavory themes, it's just another revenge flick. If it gets the original more attention, though, I say bring it on.

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  2. I totally agree. Park's Oldboy is a masterwork. If Spike Lee can hold his own and stay true to the themes it could be a great companion to the original film. (Lee is after all not known for pulling punches in his stories, and he'd be offended at the idea he would whitewash anything ;-))

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  3. Hmm, I can't bear Lee (except She's Gotta Have It), so I'll have to reserve judgement. As James says, I can't see the dodgier aspects getting through. If its a faithful adaptation, then it could be interesting, but I'm not sure about Lee.

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  4. Outside of Inside Man and Summer of Sam, I could do without Lee and his court-side antics, but the choice of director could be much worse. Brolin, on the other hand, is spot on casting and does give this remake a little more validity than it had beforehand. Though, he is a bit young for the role, but certainly light years better than Will Smith. I'm interested in seeing how it turns out no matter what.

    Also, I agree about Betty White. We get it, she is funny and says sassy stuff. But she's always been that way, damn it!

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  5. Yup, I think this could certainly work. My only concern is that a story like Oldboy--which is so dependent on its twist--is going to work oddly since everyone either already knows it or will as the remake gets more publicity. I went into Oldboy blind so the twist really hit me, and while it would work if I knew it (it obviously holds up to repeat viewings) it also seems like in remaking it, it will be impossible to keep it mum. I'll be curious though...

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  6. Zachery, do you think you could accompany your next reveiw with some of your favorite pictures from "The Pauline Hickey Fan Page", thanks my old mate.

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