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Oldboy Director Reveals His Reaction To Spike Lee & Josh Brolin’s Remake

Original Oldboy director Park Chan-wook reveals how he felt watching Spike Lee’s 2013 remake. Based loosely on a Japanese manga, Park’s Oldboy tells the twisted story of a man mysteriously imprisoned for 15 years, who after being given his freedom, sets out on a bloody quest for revenge against his unknown captors. Acclaimed by critics upon its release in 2003 (as reflected in its 82% score on Rotten Tomatoes), Oldboy was championed by the likes of Quentin Tarantino, and was later set to be remade by Steven Spielberg with Will Smith in the lead role. Ultimately Oldboy was remade, but with Lee in the director’s chair, and Josh Brolin taking on the lead.

Now 20 years after the release of the original Oldboy, which is set to receive a 4k theatrical re-release on August 16, director Park has revealed how he felt watching Lee’s 2013 Oldboy remake (via Inverse). While praising Lee and calling him an influence, Park also admits that it felt strange watching a new version of the movie he brought to life. Check out what the director had to say in the space below:


While Park’s Oldboy took the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, and went on to be regarded as an influential cult classic, Lee’s remake received mixed reviews (as reflected by its 39% Rotten Tomatoes score) and is now a largely forgotten footnote in the director’s expansive and rich filmography. Though Lee himself characterized his Oldboy as a re-interpretation rather than a remake, the film borrowed enough directly from Park’s film to feel mostly like a pale imitation, one that added little new to the original either thematically or in terms of visual imagination.

The original Oldboy is of course best-remembered today for two things: its extended one-shot hallway fight sequence (a big influence on many movies, including the recent Netflix film Extraction 2), and its insane incest-related plot twist. Lee’s film retains both these vital elements, but sadly falters in execution in both cases, falling far short of Park’s film in both visual flair and emotional impact. Park for his part seems OK with the changes Lee made in his version of Oldboy, calling the experience of watching it “fun” but also “eerie.”

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