The makers played a very dangerous game by remaking such a classic as ”Oldboy” every person that has an awareness of movies made outside of Hollywood knows about Oldboy, the original, it made such an impact around the world with its unique concept and sickening but entertaining scenes.
Off the bat I think they got the casting of the lead spot on, Josh Brolin is superb in a busy role, when you decide on remaking a movie I think you have to decide if you are going to be motivated by it , or just copy it, I think there are too many changes from the original for it to have the same impact, the original was very cold and chilling, it made you ask more than once;- ”What the fuck is going on ? ” & then ” Why am I loving this so much”
Like a comedian knowing when to leave a pause, Spike Lee missed a trick by not letting this story linger, he could have breathed life into his version by just letting a man deal with his surroundings and the drama that unfolds, I feel he tries to squeeze too much into the story for it to have the same impact as the original, you feel at one stage that you are watching a thriller in the shadow of an action movie, I felt the opposite way about the Asian version.
I love Samual L Jackson but he was too strong for this film, his personality is great for the outspoken characters but he feels like a round peg in a square hole from the second he appears on-screen, it becomes about him and not about the story.
All in all the movie is still entertaining, you can’t knock a good story, but I just think Spike could have taken the same atmosphere of the 1st movie and still added his final touches, the really shocking scenes were not included in this version, would be keen to find out if they were banned or if Spike did not have the balls to film them.
Film facts –
Joe (Josh Brolin) looks at a squid swimming in a tank at a restaurant and walks away, a nod to the infamous squid scene from the original “Oldboy” film.
Cinqué Lee, Spike Lee‘s brother, plays the Bellhop pictured on the wall in the prison room and appears as a hallucination. This may be an in-joke to the Jim Jarmusch film Mystery Train (1989), where he also played a Bellhop. Spike Lee and Jarmusch are good friends and are former film students at NYU; Jarmusch also directed Lee siblings in Coffee and Cigarettes II (1989).