Director: Spike Lee
Writer: Mike Protosevich (screenplay), Garon Tsuchiya, & Nobuaki Minegishi
Cast: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olson, Sharlto Copely, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Imperioli, James Ransone, & Max Casella
One-Line Plot Synopsis: A man (Brolin) sets out on a quest for revenge after being held prisoner for 20 years without reason.
Having seen the original and excellent South Korean film Oldboy from Park Chan-wook, I was really interested to see what changes and the direction that a completely different filmmaker like Spike Lee would take with the material. Would he keep the same controversial ending? Would he try to re-create one of the most impressive one-camera-shot martial arts scenes of the last 25 years or so?
The original Oldboy only came out in 2003, just ten years before this re-make, so it always makes me weary when there is an American remake so soon after the original. They usually try and imitate the original and it basically comes out as a watered down and less inspired version of the first one.
Unfortunately for Spike Lee, I believe that his remake of Oldboy falls into that category. To be honest, I've only liked one Spike Lee movie in the last 10 years, the crisp and smart bank robbery movie, Inside Man. Other than that, he really hasn't done anything that I've liked for a really long time (25th Hour came out in 2002).
It's not that the movie didn't have a capable cast either. I've always liked Josh Brolin and the supporting cast was filled out pretty deep with Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copely, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Imperioli, James Ransone, & Max Casella. Elizabeth Olsen in particular was very good. I don't know how in the world she is the sister of the Olsen twins. She's a very talented actress (I particularly enjoyed her in Martha Marcy May Marlene) and is miles more attractive than her two scrawny sisters if you ask me. Not that that means you're a better actress, but it applies here.
Sidenote: I don't think I'm ever going to be able to enjoy anything that James Ransone does after his character Ziggy in The Wire. It's really a shame but I think that's how it's going to go.
The real reason I wanted to check this movie out was to compare the two fight scenes of the two movies. Check them out below and see which you think is better.
2003 Fight Scene
2013 Fight Scene
I personally like the original better but I do respect the fact that Spike tried to pull it off anyway. I'm just not sure that Josh Brolin looks all that comfortable with such an extended fight scene. It just feels slightly off for some reason and some of the extras that fill out the scene play some of the stuff a little over the top for me.
The remake isn't all that bad but when compared to the original I just don't think it quite stacks up.
P.S. Elizabeth Olsen...Wowzers.