Depressed single mom Adele and her son Henry offer a wounded, fearsome man a ride. As police search town for the escaped convict, the mother and son gradually learn his true story as their options become increasingly limited.
Dr. Hess Green becomes cursed by a mysterious ancient African artifact and is overwhelmed with a newfound thirst for blood. He however is not a vampire. Soon after his transformation he ... See full summary »
Stephen Tyrone Williams,
It's 1949 Los Angeles, the city is run by gangsters and a malicious mobster, Mickey Cohen. Determined to end the corruption, John O'Mara assembles a team of cops, ready to take down the ruthless leader and restore peace to the city.
Now in his fifties, Vagn leads a solitary life and plays football with a group of similarly aged men, some even older. After being left behind at a petrol station by his teammates on their ... See full summary »
Ex-con Jensen Ames is forced by the warden of a notorious prison to compete in our post-industrial world's most popular sport: a car race in which inmates must brutalize and kill one another on the road to victory.
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
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 »
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 »
Shit, you might wanna think about what you're doing here!
I've been thinking about it for the last 20 years.
See more »
A remake that's just about adequate on its own merits, but is hardly a patch on the film on which it was based.
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.
63 of 114 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this