Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Spike Lee|
|Produced by||Roy Lee
|Screenplay by||Mark Protosevich|
by Park Chan-wook
by Garon Tsuchiya
|Music by||Roque Baños|
|Edited by||Barry Alexander Brown|
|40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks
|Running time||104 minutes|
Oldboy is a 2013 American remake of Park Chan-wook's 2003 South Korean cult film, which is based on the Japanese manga with the same name published 1996-1998. Directed by Spike Lee and written by Mark Protosevich, the film stars Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, and Sharlto Copley.
The film was released on November 27, 2013. It was the last film to be distributed by FilmDistrict, before Focus Features absorbed the company in October 2013. Along with receiving a mixed reception from both critics and audiences, with praise towards the acting and visual style, but criticism for the comparisons to the original and adding nothing new to the film. The film was a box office bomb, being one of Lee's worst-performing films of his directing career.
In 1993, alcoholic advertising executive Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) ruins a meeting with a potential client, Daniel Newcombe (Lance Reddick), by hitting on his girlfriend. Afterwards, Joe gets drunk, and goes to a bar owned by his friend Chucky (Michael Imperioli), who refuses him entry. While stuck outside, he spots a woman with a yellow umbrella, before being knocked unconscious.
He awakens in an isolated hotel room and finds he is a prisoner. His captors provide him with basic hygiene items and meager portions of processed Chinese food, along with a pint of vodka with every meal to prevent withdrawal. Through the TV, Joe hears that he has been framed for the rape and murder of his ex-wife and that his daughter, Mia, has been adopted. After being prevented from committing suicide, Joe starts writing Mia letters, gives up drinking, and spends the next 20 years planning his revenge. He becomes a skilled boxer by watching televised matches, and compiles a list of everyone who might be responsible for his imprisonment, with Newcombe being the prime suspect.
In 2013, Joe watches an adult Mia being interviewed by a TV show called "Unresolved Mysteries of Crime", and claiming she would be willing to forgive him if he returns. Suddenly, he is drugged and awakes in a box in a field, with money and a cell phone. He spots the woman with the yellow umbrella, whom he chases to a nearby clinic; there he meets Marie Sebastian (Elizabeth Olsen), a nurse who offers to help him. Joe refuses help but takes her card. He later visits Chucky and tells him what happened. He receives a mocking phone call from the mastermind behind his imprisonment, The Stranger (Sharlto Copley). After learning Newcombe died in a plane crash, Joe investigates the other names on his list, and learns they are all innocent. He eventually passes out from dehydration, and Chucky calls Marie, who gives Joe medical treatment.
Marie reads the letters Joe has written for Mia and offers to help him. With her, Joe is able to locate the restaurant that provided the food he was given in captivity and follows a man who arrives to take a large order to an abandoned factory, which is where he was held captive. Joe confronts the owner, Chaney (Samuel L. Jackson), and tortures him into giving him a taped conversation in which he discusses the terms of Joe's imprisonment with The Stranger. Joe is then forced to fight off all of Chaney's men, one of whom stabs him in the back. Joe then returns to Chucky's bar, where he meets The Stranger himself and his bodyguard Haeng-Bok, the woman with the yellow umbrella, who has kidnapped Mia.
The Stranger claims that if Joe is able to discover his real identity and his motives for imprisoning Joe, he will not only release Mia but also give Joe proof of his innocence along with $20 million in diamonds. He also promises to shoot himself while allowing Joe to watch. After The Stranger leaves, Joe rushes to Marie's house and saves her from Chaney and his men. Marie digitally identifies The Stranger's ringtone as being the theme song of Joe's prep school, and, through a yearbook, Joe is able to determine that The Stranger's real name is Adrian Pryce. Joe sends the name to Chucky, who investigates the name on the internet. He discovers that back when they were classmates, Joe saw Adrian's sister Amanda having sex with an older man and mentioned it to many students at the college. The man was later revealed to be Adrian and Amanda's father, who was having incestuous relationships with them both. Shortly afterward, Adrian's father murdered his wife and Amanda, attempted to murder Adrian, and then committed suicide. Adrian, the sole survivor, blamed Joe and swore revenge against him.
Joe hides Marie in a motel, where they have sex, while Adrian watches on a camera. Adrian intercepts a phone call from Chucky to Joe, after Chucky discovers Adrian's motive. Chucky refers to Adrian's sister as a whore, and Adrian kills Chucky out of anger. Joe later goes to Adrian's penthouse and kills Haeng-Bok. Adrian congratulates Joe on discovering the truth. Then Adrian reveals to Joe that "Mia" is actually an actress on his payroll and that Joe's real daughter is Marie. Horrified by what Adrian has engineered him to do, Joe begs for death, but Adrian instead gives him the diamonds and, having exacted his revenge, commits suicide. Joe writes Marie a letter, stating they can never meet again, and leaves her all but a few of the diamonds, which he gives to Chaney in exchange for returning to captivity—apparently for the rest of his life.
An American remake of Oldboy previously had director Justin Lin attached. In November 2008, DreamWorks and Universal were securing the rights to the remake, which Will Smith had expressed interest in starring, with Steven Spielberg as director. Mark Protosevich was in talks to write the script, although the acquisition to the remake rights were not finalized. Smith later clarified that Spielberg would not be remaking the film: he would be adapting the manga itself, which is considerably different from the film. In June 2009, the comic's publisher launched a lawsuit against the Korean film's producers for giving the film rights to Spielberg without their permission. Later in November 2009, it was reported that DreamWorks, Steven Spielberg and Will Smith had stepped back from the project. The producing team announced on 10 November 2009 that the project was dead.
On July 11, 2011, Mandate Pictures sent a press release stating that Spike Lee would direct a remake of the South Korean film (ignoring the earlier version's adaptation of the manga) with a screenplay written by Protosevich. Josh Brolin was cast to star in the remake as the lead character, while Christian Bale was reportedly in talks to portray the antagonist character, but it was later reported that Colin Firth had been offered the role. Firth later passed on the role, which was later offered to Clive Owen. In May 2012, Deadline reported that Sharlto Copley had officially been cast as the villain Adrian Pryce. Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson and Nate Parker were all later announced to have joined the cast. Parker was later replaced by James Ransone, due to a scheduling conflict. The film marked Jackson's first time working with director Lee since 1991's Jungle Fever.
Spike Lee's version was 140 minutes long, but the producers heavily re-edited the film to 105 minutes (the producers even re-edited the one-shot hammer scene); Spike Lee and Josh Brolin were unhappy with it. Lee even removed his trademark “Spike Lee Joint” for a more impersonal “Spike Lee Film” during the editing process. Brolin has also said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that he prefers Lee's version of the film, though it is not clear if this cut will ever be released.
Oldboy received mixed reviews from critics, as it currently holds a 42% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 132 reviews. The general consensus for the site says "Suitably grim and bloody yet disappointingly safe and shallow, Spike Lee's Oldboy remake neither surpasses the original nor adds anything new to its impressive legacy." On Metacritic, the film holds a 49 score out of 100, based on 41 reviews.
The film grossed $850,000 in its first five days, one of the weakest Thanksgiving openings of all time, according to Variety. It opened in 17th place at the box office, and so far has received a worldwide gross of $4,861,022, making it a box office bomb.
The film's advertising agency was also accused of taking advantage of the creative artist, Juan Luis Garcia, who created posters for the film. According to an open letter posted by Garcia on his official website, the agency was asking him to work for too low of an offer, saying that the "exposure" would be more important. Garcia claims the posters were used and imitated for promotion of the film without paying compensation or credit to the artist. Spike Lee responded on his Twitter account saying: "I Never Heard Of This Guy Juan Luis Garcia,If He Has A Beef It's Not With Me.I Did Not Hire Him,Do Not Know Him.Cheap Trick Writing To Me.YO". He also addressed this further on Instagram, "Why Should I Pay Someone Who I Never Met Nor Had Any Contact With Ever? He Never Made Any Deal With Me.Why Don’t You Pay Me For Your Stupid Text On Thanksgiving Day?".