Hollywood have a tendency to remake foreign films and completely miss the point. Whilst studios don’t discriminate in this incompetence, they seem to have a particular problem translating and comprehending Asian cinema. The likes of Ringu, Shutter, Pulse, Il Mare, My Sassy Girl and A Tale of Two Sisters all turned out badly, one way or another. It would perhaps be a tad harsh to say that Spike Lee’s remake of Oldboy was bad, but in comparison to Chan-wook Park’s 2003 film it was a damp squib.
After being arrested for drunkenness and subsequently released, Dae-su Oh (Min-sik Choi) simply vanishes. He wakes up to find himself in a hotel room which will act as his prison cell for the next 15 years. Whilst watching TV he learns that his wife has been murdered and that he is the prime suspect. He faces a daily battle to maintain his fitness and sanity, waiting for the day when he’ll get his freedom and be able to exact his revenge.
Oldboy is an extraordinary mix of striking visuals, explosive violence and enthralling mystery. As Dae-su follows a trail of clues in order to unmask his kidnapper, smashing his way through any barriers, he finds himself becoming attracted to a younger woman (Hye-jeong Kang). This spirals into the bigger picture, ranging past against present to create a tale which is bold, brutal, bloody and brilliant. Oldboy is a force of nature.
Oldboy is released in cinemas on 2 August and available on 4K Digital Download from Arrow Video on 26 August.