Trending
MOST READ
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Music: Chris Pérez never saw it coming. “All I ever wanted to do was play guitar,” he told the Current. “I never thought I’d be the subject of an interview... By Enrique Lopetegui 8/28/2013
Chris Perez, husband of slain Tejana icon Selena, tells of romance, suffering

Chris Perez, husband of slain Tejana icon Selena, tells of romance, suffering

Arts & Culture: In one of the final chapters of his book To Selena, With Love (out March 6), Selena's widower Chris Perez mentions that Abraham Quintanilla, his former father-in-law, once... By Enrique Lopetegui 3/7/2012
Veg Out with Earth Burger

Veg Out with Earth Burger

Food & Drink: “Do you want cheese on that?” “Yeah, sure.” “Vegan or organic?” “Um, what? Where am I?” By Jessica Elizarraras 7/23/2014
Savage Love: The Boys in the Bandwidth

Savage Love: The Boys in the Bandwidth

Arts & Culture: I am a gay man and have been in a relationship with my GGG boyfriend for more than three years. We are in our early 20s and have a... By Dan Savage 7/23/2014
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

Screens

Should You See the 'Oldboy' Remake?

Photo: Courtesy Photo, License: N/A

Courtesy Photo

Should Josh Brolin have laid down the hammer on this American remake?


The Sign-Off
According to a recent interview with Lee on The Verge, the only reason Brolin participated was that Park gave his blessing to the re-make.

No Subtitles
And no unfamiliar Asian culture crap to distract the idiot masses from the plot at hand. Yeehaw!

Samuel L. Jackson in a Mohawk and a Leather Kilt
’Nuff said.

CONS

The Style
One of the thrills of Oldboy was its striking visual appeal. Park and his art department carefully curated sets and costumes—just look at all that funky wallpaper, the avant-garde clothing, the dim lighting. The result is as if Wes Anderson art- directed a David Fincher film. In comparison, the remake’s art department is helmed by a team best known for The Town, which went hard for realism over style.

The Director
While Spike Lee has some fancy camera tricks up his sleeves, his more recent efforts at surrealism and dark humor—both hallmarks of the original Oldboy—have been panned. In some ways, what made the original’s gruesomeness in plot and action palatable was its over-the-top, intriguingly odd packaging. Like a Quentin Tarantino film, the hyperstylization is almost soothing, as if to say, “it’s OK. This is only a story.” Lee’s earnestness, by contrast, is all about highlighting the real, albeit with his auteur eye. And trust me, this is one story that you don’t want to believe could happen in reality.

The Octopus Scene
Many fans of the original might go to the remake just to see how the infamous live octopus scene is reinterpreted in an American setting. In fact, since Olsen’s character is now a doctor, not a sushi chef, I wonder if it will even make it in at all, and if it did, what would be the relevance? In the original, the scene helped spark a budding relationship between Dae-su and the chef, simultaneously adding an intriguing layer to the mystery (why would any woman be attracted to someone who just ate that?)

The Plot
More shocking than the violence, which seems almost quaint now compared to the films Oldboy inspired, is its fucked-up ending. It’s a story that need only exist in this world once, and it’s unnerving that Hollywood found the twist ending so titillating that it needed to be remade in a more familiar context, sans subtitles and transplanted to American soil, just to maximize the story’s reach. It’s sort of like remaking The Crying Game because people couldn’t understand the actors’ British and Irish accents.

In the end, I’m wary that all the things I loved about the original will be “reinterpreted” by Lee into a dour, uberviolent and exceedingly icky version, despite some potentially stellar performances, a smarter female lead and Samuel L. Jackson in a mohawk. Even the advertising for the remake shows signs of the kind of heavy-handed foreshadowing—“Ask not why you were imprisoned. Ask why you were set free.”—that studios insist upon for American multiplex audiences, but which was so refreshingly absent from the original. I fear Lee’s joint might end up like Dae-su in Park’s cult classic, stripped of wonder and unable to say anything new.

Oldboy

Dir. Spike Lee; writ. Mark Prostosevich (based on a manga novel by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi); feat. Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen and Samuel L. Jackson (R)
Opens Nov 27 at Palladium and Silverado 16

Recently in Screens & Tech
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus