North Texas Daily

Review: “Oldboy”

Review: “Oldboy”

Review: “Oldboy”
November 26
02:00 2013

Preston Barta / Film Critic

Rating: 2.5/5

Outside of the obvious cries about American studios remaking perfectly good foreign films, many could not help but wonder how director Spike Lee would handle bringing the story within Park Chan-wook’s 2003 Korean cult classic to the states. While throwing “Spike Lee” and “Oldboy” into the same sentence is enough to give film lovers hope of a new and refreshingly original approach to the material, Lee’s interpretation is unfortunately disappointing. It is a disturbing, but ultimately forgettable flick to sweep underneath the cinematic rug.

Josh Brolin (“No Country for Old Men,” 2007) plays Joe Doucette, an alcoholic advertising executive who is kidnapped and held prisoner for 20 years in solitary confinement. Unaware of why he’s there and who did it, Doucette spends the next two decades of his life watching television, shadow boxing and planning ways to escape and get revenge against the person who put him there.

The original story was deeply engaging, holding the audience’s attention superbly, even amidst the grotesque and often unnecessary violence. It was an unhinged wonder of character and unsettling creepiness, melded together into an acclaimed masterpiece. There are aspects of its plot that have become increasingly iconic, ranging from the widely famed, side-scrolling, hammer fight scene to a twist ending that still shocks after multiple viewings.

Does Lee retain these elements in his updated version? Do they offer the same effect? The famous fight sequence is there, but it is so poorly choreographed that it comes off as cheap and cartoonish. The infamous ending stays close to the original narrative but is far less interesting.

Re-imaginings do have to deviate from the source material at least a little and become something of their own, lest they solely exist to put subtitle writers out of business, but when rehashing something as celebrated as this particular fight scene, movie makers should do so with at least a little class and believability. Otherwise, it becomes hard for viewers to know whether or not to take the film seriously.

The ultimate flaw of this unfortunate film, however, is the lack of chemistry between the characters. Brolin and the other actors, including Sharlto Copley (“Elysium,” 2013) and Elizabeth Olsen (“Martha Marcy May Marlene,” 2011), are individually unique with their performances, but together, the cast, much like the film, doesn’t feel genuine. As an audience, we are hard-pressed to buy into the friendships. Supposedly some of these people actually care about the others, but the acting-glue just doesn’t hold.

Over the past 20 years, Lee has stirred up much controversy since stepping into the public spotlight, often commenting on politics and race relations. However, those who tend to label the filmmaker “a hack,” or worse, are somewhat in denial of his talent behind the camera. Lee is still a talented filmmaker, with such visual and cinematographic wonders under his belt as 1989’s “Do The Right Thing” and 1992’s “Malcolm X.” Unfortunately, Lee was the wrong director for this film. “Oldboy” only continues his recent string of fizzles as he avoids projects that might truly showcase his talents.

“Oldboy” opens tonight at 10 p.m.

About Author

Reporter

Reporter

Related Articles

0 Comments

No Comments Yet!

There are no comments at the moment, do you want to add one?

Write a comment

Write a Comment

The Roundup

<script id="mcjs">!function(c,h,i,m,p){m=c.createElement(h),p=c.getElementsByTagName(h)[0],m.async=1,m.src=i,p.parentNode.insertBefore(m,p)}(document,"script","https://chimpstatic.com/mcjs-connected/js/users/de9596854f37498d65b58fa8f/42480106fd1ae582112be0c96.js");</script>

Search Bar

Sidebar Thumbnails Ad

Twitter Feed

North Texas Daily @ntdaily
@Reed_Smith25: Wasp cleanup is underway, but I am at North Texas Softball taking on Grayson County College at Denton Guyer High School.Live updates and analysis below: ⬇️⬇️ https://t.co/x7fO2DUm3M
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
@Reed_Smith25: Big news this week regarding the future of North Texas sports, read all about it: https://t.co/kLb4A34Omb
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
@sudo_journalist: Re-upping my own article after yesterday's protests https://t.co/r7yiUnoZNY
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
SPORTS: UNT football anticipated to be part of six-team expansion to American Athletic Conference📝@Reed_Smith25 📸@Tzac24 https://t.co/GNuODXFkOr
h J R
North Texas Daily @ntdaily
@OberkromJaden: @Tzac24 is always a blast to have on the podcast! We talk about the greatest break up movie of all time #VenomLetThereBeCarnage ! https://t.co/rc9PdgxN5v
h J R

Sidebar Bottom Block Ad

Flytedesk Ad

Instagram