x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Review of Spike Lee’s Oldboy

Spike Lee's sharp remake can't escape death by comparison.

Josh Brolin in the poster for Oldboy. Courtesy FilmDistrict
Josh Brolin in the poster for Oldboy. Courtesy FilmDistrict

Oldboy

Director: Spike Lee

Stars: Josh Brolin, Elisabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley

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Spike Lee was never a filmmaker that was going to neuter or sanitise this American version of a film which, to many, is untouchable. However, while compatible to the 2003 film (and the original Manga comic) in terms of style and apparent ease with on-screen violence, there are certain blemishes that diminish the appeal.

Characters are somewhat broader, less subtle than Park Chan-wook’s version, dulling the forthcoming twists although not lessening their impact entirely.

It’s a problem that dogs the film throughout — you find yourself scoring it constantly against its Korean counterpart, and in this comparison it just falls short. Though well-cast and told with verve, Lee’s Oldboy is arguably the best remake fans could have hoped for, although you do inevitably have to ask why this journey had to be taken at all.

* James Luxford