2013 Movie Preview: Oldboy


Posted January 24, 2013 - By Joseph Baxter

2013 Movie Preview: Oldboy

Release Date: October 11
Director: Spike Lee
Rating: Not Yet Rated

A man who was kidnapped and stuck into a hotel-like prison in isolation for 15 years, is suddenly released for unknown reasons. Seeking revenge, his investigation unfolds a bizarre and personal plot.

What We Know:

The 2003 South Korean cult classic film by director, Park Chan-wook (based on a late-90's Japanese manga series) is reinvented and westernized. Following the basic framework of the the manga and film, a man named Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) seems to prefer the sip of a booze bottle to familial obligations, specifically when it comes to being home for his young daughter's birthday. It would be a date he'd never make as he is apprehended in the streets and shuttled away.

He awakens in a somewhat aesthetically normal hotel room of sorts, except at this resort, checkout is sometime around...NEVER, and the concierge is more of a warden. Nevertheless, he's fed on a daily basis and still able to keep up with current events through the medium of television. Unfortunately, it's also through that medium which he learns that his wife has been murdered. 15 years go by and an older Joe, grizzled and unbalanced from a decade and a half of isolation suddenly finds himself freed in circumstances as mysterious as his initial capture.

After a rough period of readjustment with the outside world, he befriends a young woman named Marie (Elizabeth Olsen) and begins an investigation into the motives behind his long ordeal. -- And by "investigation" we mean a bit of sleuthing followed by a one-man marathon of brutal, bloody, cringe-inducing violence, against his former captors, including what promises to be a horrendous torture sequence with his former "warden," Chaney (Samuel L. Jackson), inspired by a famous scene in the original film involving a hammer.

Soon, enough, the mastermind of the machinations reveals himself as billionaire, Adrian Pryce (Sharlto Copley), who gives Joe five short days to continue his investigation and find out the true motives behind his imprisonment. If successful, Pryce will end his own life. However, failure will result in the death of his potential new flame, Marie.

Michael Imperioli, Lance Reddick, Max Casella, and Caitlin Dulany round out the cast.

2013 Movie Preview: Oldboy
(Left: Josh Brolin on the set of Oldboy as "Joe Doucett". Right: Choi Min-sik as original film protagonist, "Oh Dae-su.")

What We Expect:

This project originally aimed to be a vehicle for Will Smith, which was to draw its inspiration more from the original manga series. It was an approach that made sense, since the manga was not quite as sadistic, over-the-top, and taboo, which would have accommodated a family-friendly star like Smith. However, that version fell through a few years back and the Oldboy remake seemed destined for scrap. Its revival was likely dependent on a mandate to shock audiences and possibly generate headlines. 

Information about the film's stylistic approach is just not out there at this point. Knowing that Spike Lee is at the helm still does little to clue us in about where the film is headed. The gratuitous violence that this film needs to sport will certainly be there. However, it remains to be seen if the original film's irreverent approach to its sadism, dovetailed with controversial issues like the subject of incest would be covered in an American wide release of this caliber.

This film's writer, Mark Protosevich has penned his share of heroic redemption tales with story credits on Thor and co-writing I Am Legend. However, "redemption" does not seem to be a concept that fits into this story. -- Quite the opposite, actually. Park Chan-wook's film (the second of a revenge-themed trilogy,) was a seemingly unapologetic odyssey of violence that reveled in the visceral release of revenge in its purest form. Yet, it also presents a tragic, fatalistic message, warning of its potential perils in a way that would make Sophocles proud. While that may not exactly be the film we get in the States, it should be one hell of a ride, nevertheless.


Be sure to check out more of G4's 2013 movie previews throughout the month of January.

2013 Movie Preview: Oldboy


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