Here it is. The famous, loved, even revered Korean film has been re-made for our precious Anglo-tuned ears. It seems as though the ideas from Hollywood diminish in quality one by one; like a fat man, whose rope is finally thinning, clings to the nearest mountain ledge, they turn their hand to stealing successes from the past, the present and the rest of the world. Luckily for them original, moving and complex storylines can be produced without the aid of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Oldboy follows the struggle of the average Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) who, for apparently no reason, is kidnapped and locked in a windowless room for twenty years. Upon an equally spontaneous release he begins an enraged search to discover why he was so brutally imprisoned; along the way cutting through a fog of allies, enemies, twists and turns.
The original drags you in from the moment Oh Dae-su (the Korean main character) comes on screen. Sliding smoothly from the comical first scene through to the ominous tone of the rest of the film, you watch his gradually deteriorating appearance and as you become entwined into each scene you more understand the care taken to relate his intense struggles. Dark humor is injected at the most unlikely but effective moments developing a completely immersive and provocative journey.
We have seen some of the pitiful Hollywood efforts to translate classic stories into anything more than their trollish over produced style of film. Often the endearing charm of a story is captured and drowned in the concrete of Hollywood’s over-epic formulas. Sometimes succeeding more by a game of numbers than by any artistic direction, the besmirched name of the film they have pillaged inevitably fades into contemptuous obscurity.
Despite the failings of some of its predecessors, there have also been many remakes where their original style is enhanced by the western budget and approach. Hopefully Oldboy can mirror the cleverly adapted film The Departed. Through the aid of spectacular actors like Matt Damon and Leonardo Dicaprio, The Departed completely blew away audiences in 2006 and will remain a benchmark to anyone attempting to capture success from the Asian market.
The director of Oldboy, Spike Lee, has a history of making intriguing and subtle films whilst still channeling the power of American cinema. With the inclusion of the champion of Asian style cinema, the venerable Samuel L Jackson, and the lead played by Josh Brolin who is no stranger to presenting a dark, tortured and angry character, this film seems to have most of what it needs not to follow The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo into the sin bin of remakes.
Whether you have experienced the original and want to see how it will fair in the western format or you are just looking for something interesting to watch in the cinema, Oldboy promises to deliver a darkness and brutality reminiscent of the recent Batman series and hopefully will not be as horrific as listening to your stoned housemate explain why a degree in yoghurt would be useful.
Release Date: 6th December
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