Spike Lee has signed on to take up the task of remaking the South Korean film Oldboy. This film is beloved by many not for it's brutal depiction of vengeance, but for it's depth of human emotions betrayed through director's Park Chan-wook lens. Roy Lee (The Ring, The Grudge, Dark Water) is producing the film and it will be scripted solely by Mark Protosevich (The Cell, I Am Legend). The team has promised to keep the soul of the movie, but some changes were made including changing the title from OldBoy to Old Boy. I know that may seem like a small thing, but for me it immediately shows this film wanting to distinguish itself from the classic. This leaves many in the film community to wonder why Americanize it? The Hollywood brass seem to howl for original scripts, yet they continue to fund remakes. What they really want are old ideas with a new twist. Thus, I wanted to give my perspective on Spike Lee directing this film, and Hollywood remakes in general.
Spike Lee is known more for his controversial commentary than it seems for his filmmaking. To his credit, he is a great filmmaker. Let's just note that for the books and move forward. I just would not see him as wanting to be involved in this project. Drama seems to be his strong suit, so why venture into an Asian cinema remake? When I first starting reading about this story, rumor was, Will Smith was playing the lead with Steven Spielberg directing. The deal died due to Dreamworks and Mandate film not reaching an agreement. Many in the film community were happy. Next we heard Spike Lee is directing and plans moved forward. I do not know what happened in the interim, but so far Spike seems to be taking the bull by the horns leading the project for a win. Unfortunately, major changes to the storyline have been whispered around town.
Casting for the film is not set in stone, but the rumor so far is that Josh Brolin will take the male lead. Elizabeth Olsen (who I loved in Martha Marcy May Marlene) will play the female lead. Most recently Samuel L Jackson signed on for a smaller, but critical part in the film. All are superb actors so I am not worried about that part of the deal. I am however worried about the story changes in the script. It has been noted that Spike intends to offer a different visual interpretation of the story which includes the most famous scene in the film. Yep, the single shot hallway fight. I don't know if you can up one on Park Chan-wook, but I'll want to see you try. This scene will define whether Spike can do the remake justice. Good news is that the Hammerfight and Octopus scenes will stay in so bravo to that production decision.
Remakes are rampant in Hollywood and the lack of creativity saddens me a bit. On the business side, I do understand why investors want a standard to start from before dishing out millions of dollars. Some notable remakes that are coming out next year include, Annie starring Willow Smith, daughter of Will Smith, A Star is Born with Beyonce, and Overboard with Jennifer Lopez attached. These names will attract dollars from the pockets of average Americans wanting to get a mini vaca for under $20 bucks. I save my money for truly independent, or off beat films, but can not deny hanging out with my besties to watch a blockbuster. So with all that said, I am still a movie lover and look forward to seeing the remake. You can not comment on stuff you don't know about or haven't seen - right?