You can’t teach an “Oldboy”‘ new tricks


December 4, 2013

In the summer of 2010, I was cooped up in my uncle’s house in New Jersey looking up info on upcoming Hollywood movies. I knew everything from how much the movie cost, what it was about, who was in it, and even where these films were being shot. Over the years I’ve seen most of these movies because they came out when they were supposed to come out. Here and now again I would miss a movie, but it was usually because I simply didn’t care to see it in the first place. One of the movies I’ve been waiting for and finally had the chance to see was Spike Lee’s “revision” of the famous manga Oldboy. This movie should’ve been out ages ago but it just sat on a shelf for no apparent reason.

Lee obviously didn’t care enough for the movie to be released because he said it was a “Hollywood” film,and he simply left it at that. According to Lee, real films aren’t from Hollywood, and the only people who actually make films in Hollywood are Spielberg and Scorsese. Spike Lee has a habit of not thinking before he speaks and says comments similar to the one in the sentence before.

oldboy-posterOldboy is Spike’s second Hollywood movie. The last Hollywood movie he made was Inside Man back in 2006, and it was both critically and commercially successful. Oldboy was finally released last Friday after three years of rumors and amazing actors dropping out. Since I work at the movie theater, and my mother was going to be late picking me up, I thought I should at least see Lee’s second attempt at a Hollywood film. As I was walking to the theater, I didn’t feel any type of feeling in my heart. Usually when I’m about to see a movie, regardless of how bad or good I think it’s going to be, my heart races and I get a rush. I didn’t have this feeling when I was walking to see Oldboy. I even stopped to talk to a Villa girl for a good ten minutes.

After my enlightening conversation, I walked into the dark theater and saw only about six people in the theater. I sat down and watched the trailer for Grudge Match, a movie that looks so terrible that I’m simply leaving it up to you to research and be awed by the downfall of your idols in the mainstream spotlight of America. Then trailer with Kid Cudi and Jesse from Breaking Bad started playing, but that’s a story for another day. The movie started without the one thing that made Spike Lee movies stick out to the public as if he wants us to know that he is black and proud. “A Spike Lee Joint.” These words were missing from this dull and pointless movie. The movie itself is something of simplicity and mediocrity when it comes to Lee’s revision of this Japanese manga classic.

When it comes to Lee’s use of black actors in stereotypical situations that add unintentional satire to black people culture, this movie has none of that whatsoever. It stars Josh Brolin as John Doucett, an advertising executive that is kidnapped and locked in a room for 20 years. One day he is suddenly released, and he searches for the man who locked him up. It sounds interesting at first but, Lee finds a way to make it bad and disappointing. The only positives from this movie are the very few fight scenes. It was interesting to see Lee do something he isn’t known for doing and execute it well, but I feel that he only did it because it was in the script.

This movie is much lighter in tone than the 2003 Korean cult classic directed by Park Chan-wook, and it simply falls flat on adding onto the history of a classic story. It’s far from a “Spike Lee Joint,” and this is just another example of Hollywood taking a unique and beautiful story and giving it no justice with a remake.

The acting in this movie was OK because Josh Brolin, Samuel L. Jackson and Elizabeth Olsen gave great performances, but I can’t say the same for Sharlto Copley of District 9 fame. His character felt more like a joke rather than an actual threat. This isn’t the actor’s fault because he was giving it his all, but he simply felt comedic in this role. The only thing I give Lee props for is his ability to at least put in his signature trademarks like the floating dolly, but those trademarks don’t matter because the film feels plain and unnecessary.

If I were you, I would avoid this movie. One half of you didn’t even know this movie existed until you read this article about it, and the other half didn’t even know it was a remake until you read this article about it. Just watch the original on Netflix in the comfort of your home and be amazed by an instant cult classic. If you do end up going to the theater any time soon, you should check out anything else but this.

My rating: 1 out of 5

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