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Oldboy (2013)

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Obsessed with vengeance, a man sets out to find out why he was kidnapped and locked into solitary confinement for twenty years without reason.

Director:

Spike Lee

Writers:

Garon Tsuchiya (manga), Nobuaki Minegishi (manga) | 1 more credit »
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1,656 ( 217)
4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Josh Brolin ... Joe Doucett
Elizabeth Olsen ... Marie Sebastian
Sharlto Copley ... Adrian / The Stranger
Samuel L. Jackson ... Chaney
Michael Imperioli ... Chucky
Pom Klementieff ... Haeng-Bok
James Ransone ... Dr. Tom Melby
Max Casella ... James Prestley
Linda Emond ... Edwina Burke
Elvis Nolasco ... Cortez
Rami Malek ... Browning
Lance Reddick ... Daniel Newcombe
Hannah Ware ... Donna Hawthorne
Richard Portnow ... Bernie Sharkey
Hannah Simone ... Stephanie Lee
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Storyline

An advertising executive is kidnapped and held hostage for 20 years in solitary confinement. When he is inexplicably released, he embarks on an obsessive mission to discover who orchestrated his punishment, only to find he is still trapped in a web of conspiracy and torment. Written by FilmDistrict

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Ask not why you were imprisoned. Ask why you were set free.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong brutal violence, disturbing images, some graphic sexuality and nudity, and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official tumblr

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 November 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Oldboy See more »

Filming Locations:

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$885,382, 1 December 2013

Gross USA:

$2,193,658

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,861,022
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | Datasat | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Spike Lee said that his version of the film was two hours and twenty minutes long (mostly character build-ups and interactions), but the studio heavily edited it down to one hour and forty-four minutes. This is why the movie opens with "A Spike Lee Film" instead of "A Spike Lee Joint". Josh Brolin preferred Lee's version. See more »

Goofs

After being imprisoned in 1993, Joe turns on the TV and as he surf the channels a fragment of Xena: Warrior Princess is seen, but Xena did not start on TV until late 1995. It is thought that this is an anachronism, but this is the first in a series of scenes that montage the passage of the twenty years incarceration. It is not clear how much time has passed between his imprisonment and being framed for the murder of his former partner, from whom he has become estranged for some time, but it is more than a few days and less than a few years given the next chronological news snippet. See more »

Quotes

Chaney: Shit, you might wanna think about what you're doing here!
Joe Doucett: I've been thinking about it for the last 20 years.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Film 2017: Episode dated 3 December 2013 (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Mysteries of Crimea
Written and performed by Bruce Hornsby
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A remake that's just about adequate on its own merits, but is hardly a patch on the film on which it was based.
1 December 2013 | by shawneofthedeadSee all my reviews

Hollywood remakes of Asian films are always an iffy proposition. How will the nuances and culturally-specific references translate across oceans and continents? Generally, however good the remakes, they rarely – if ever – eclipse the original films. In recent memory, perhaps only Martin Scorsese's The Departed, based on Infernal Affairs, has managed to find a life of its own. Other remakes, like The Lake House and Shall We Dance?, have sunk into ignominy. Spike Lee's Oldboy isn't completely terrible, but it does lose quite a bit of the dark, bruising, ambivalent flavour of Park Chan-Wook's 2003 Korean classic.

Josh Brolin takes centre stage in Lee's version. He sinks credibly into the abrasive, drunken skin of Joe Doucett, a slimy guy whose wife and daughter Mia have left him. Nevertheless, Joe continues to merrily offend everyone around him, until he is abruptly kidnapped and trapped in a hotel room for twenty years. During his arduous time spent in solitary confinement, Joe ponders the mystery of his captor. When he finally gets free, he resolves to seek revenge and re-connect with Mia – a mission that becomes increasingly fraught with complications as horrifying secrets from his past are unearthed.

On its own merits, Oldboy – the title as obtuse as ever – is passably gripping. It entertains and horrifies in equal measure, packing in a great deal of bone-crunching violence and torture that runs the gamut from physical to psychological and everything in between. The relationship that develops between Joe and charity worker Marie (Elizabeth Olsen) is well-acted, if a little forced. Lee even cooks up a pretty disturbing face-off between Joe and Chaney (Samuel L. Jackson), the guy in charge of locking up people for his clients – no questions asked.

What works rather less well is the deliberate dilution of the twist in Oldboy's tale, presumably because American audiences can only handle so much moral and emotional ambiguity. Where Park's version sees the revenge mission warped with a horrifyingly emotional dilemma, Lee's film shies away from the conundrum. As a result, the film becomes far less subtle and considerably more melodramatic. There's a flashback sequence towards the end of the film that's ridiculous enough to make audiences laugh rather than gasp, even as blood splatters across walls and families are torn apart.

The cast assembled is impressive, even though they're not really given a lot to work with in the frequently stilted, over-blown script. Brolin anchors the film with admirably stony determination, but his Joe never seems to really feel the weight of his twenty years without human contact. Olsen, too, stumbles around a bit, as if never quite sure how to play her part, and Sharlto Copley comes close to overplaying his hand when he emerges from the shadows to drop a few hints about the reasons behind Joe's ordeal.

There's enough on display in Oldboy for the film to jog by at a fairly quick clip. Lee pays tribute along the way to a few iconic elements of the Korean film – an octopus in a tank, a prolonged battle in a corridor – and the cast tries its hardest to make it all work. But it's hard to shake the feeling that something a little deeper, richer, sadder and weirder was lost in translating the film into a vernacular more pleasing to Hollywood audiences.


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