Oldboy: It’s Not Terrible, Guys!

by Ethan Alter November 27, 2013 6:00 am
<i>Oldboy</i>: It’s Not Terrible, Guys!

If somebody had to remake Oldboy, I'm glad it was Spike Lee. Arriving a full decade after Park Chan-wook's original film warped peoples' fragile little minds, setting off the South Korean New Wave in the process, this Americanized version is a surprisingly faithful re-do at least in terms of the general arc of the plot. Once again, a drunkard (Josh Brolin this time) wakes up from night of alcohol-fueled revelry to find himself locked in a hotel room, where he proceeds to spend the next twenty years of his life. When he's unexpectedly released one day, he embarks on a mission of vengeance that takes him to some dark, messed-up places that if you've seen the original you already know about and if you haven't, I'm not about to ruin it for you. Where the film establishes its own identity, however, is in its style; while Chan-wook's Oldboy constantly teeters on the edge of the absurd -- finally tipping over in the final act -- Lee rushes full-bore into Crazytown early on and the results are fun to watch, even when Oldboy 2.0 threatens to dissolve into a blood-red puddle of pure ridiculousness.

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