Oldboy review: Spike Lee’s remake doesn’t compare

Posted on 10 December 2013
By Charlie Elgar
  • Share:

The first question that comes to mind is simple – Why do we need a Western reconstitution of Park Chan-wook’s Korean thriller?

There are two possible answers – either to soften the blow of some of the original’s on-screen brutality, or to provide for those that are too lazy to read English subtitles.

Oldboy is the story of Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) – a struggling alcoholic who is mysteriously imprisoned for 20 years, whilst being framed for the murder and rape of his wife.

After being given the same tray of food along with a heart-burning bottle of vodka every day, Doucett is reduced to a profound state of insanity and entrapment.

However, he soon uses his time to train himself (some might say quite unrealistically) for the day he meets the man that put him there.

Suddenly released into the wild world two decades later, we watch over Brolin as he chases leads that he hopes will take him to his captor, whom he is also led to believe is responsible for the imprisonment of his daughter.

Despite a few minor faults – why it seems Doucett never ages in the entire 20 years for example, there is no doubt that this particular storyline is entertaining.

Although admittedly, those who have seen the original will make constant comparisons between the two – and frankly, there’s no competition.

For those who are yet to be introduced to the world of Oldboy, the story is original, eye-catching and intense with an unexpected twist – accentuated by the innovative and creative camera techniques we expect of Spike Lee.

Samuel L. Jackson plays a rather shallow role that will doubtfully enhance his already highly established repertoire, but Brolin is joined by Elizabeth Olsen who puts in a solid performance as a key member of the cast.

We can conclude that some films should just be left as they are, and despite a good effort, Oldboy is one of them – possibly leaving this remake as one of the biggest disappointments of 2013. Sorry Spike.