After shocking and scintillating Fans in 2003 with the Adaptation of the Japanese Manga, South-Korean Visionary Park Chan-Wook’s Oldboy gets an American Adaptation by another Maverick in his own right, Spike Lee. This certainly isn’t a Film for the lighthearted. In fact, the extremities it explores in the name of vengeance seem rather limitless.
Joe Doucett is forced into solitary confinement for 20 years for the murder of his Wife. The only problem is this – he actually isn’t guilty of it. To the rest of the World he has disappeared and is presumed dead, surviving on a diet of Potstickers, desperately trying to find the Daughter from whom by force he had been estranged. Once he makes it back into the World, he takes names, on the violent path to figuring out who had been sadistic enough to frame him and Boy is he ever angry. Along the way, he crosses paths with the kind-hearted Marie (Elizabeth Olsen) who joins him in his search to find his Target. After finally encountering the Man (Sharlto Copley) who had masterminded his torment, Joe learns also that he has captured his Daughter. He then is given two days to put together the pieces to the puzzle behind that Man’s identity and the truth behind his motives.
Lee captures artfully the realm of Fantasy, making Oldboy surreal and engaging. The circumstances on all accounts are plagued by a lingering implausibility, but for the duration of the Film we are drawn-into Joe‘s gray-hued world and troubled psyche thanks to a committed performance from the deeply-engaging Josh Brolin. Up-and-Comer Olsen has been rather selective in her short Career thus far, but takes the right risks here. Brolin and Olsen together exhibit pure forbidden chemistry. South African Import Copley also is another coming into Oldboy with significant boosts in profile of late Stateside with a string of Box Office successes. Physically he is no match for Joe‘s brawn, but mentally and emotionally he edges that one out at almost every stage in the game.
Despite some struggles in finding its tone – wanting at points to veer towards Action and at at times wanting to be a Thriller, Fans of Park‘s original should still find plenty to enjoy with some new twists here. Lee should garner some new Arthouse Fans with a fresh perspective on this beloved Cult Hit. eOne Films releases Oldboy on Wednesday, November 27, 2013.