ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Oldboy remake (2013)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Spike Lee

Starring:
Josh Brolin/Joe
Elizabeth Olsen/Marie
Sharlto Copley/Adrian
Samuel L. Jackson/Chaney
PLOT-CRUNCH
Dead beat dad, poon hunting and booze abusing advertising exec Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) sees his world go down to an even lower level of hell, when after a night of hitting the sauce hardcore, he wakes up trapped in a room... for 20 freaking years. Once out, he tries to find out the WHO and the WHY behind his incarceration. He also likes to hit mooks over the head with a hammer. Hey, a man needs to cut the edge!
THE LOWDOWN
I'm starting to hate covering remakes, especially of movies I adore. Because no matter how much I want to judge a film on its own merits, if I’ve seen and loved the original, how can I do so with a straight face? I can’t pretend I didn’t see it. I saw it! Hence, of course the original will come with me in that theatre when tackling the dub. Anyways, having worshiped Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy (Review here), I didn’t want or need a remake. I didn’t want it when Spielberg and Will Smith were gonna do it (thank Crom that didn’t f*cking happen) and I didn’t want this Spike Lee version either. So instead of going to watch Homefront like I REALLY wanted to, I went to see this one, walking backwards, as a guy that HAD TO for his site. And you know what? Not bad! Not bad at all.

No matter what Spike Lee has said in the media; this is not a new adaptation of the Japanese Manga, but a remake of Park Chan-wook’s movie. Come on man! Apart from: using today’s technology, setting it in the USA, using important American events to convey the passing of time, revealing the villain earlier and some minor tweaks on the ending , if you’ve seen the original Oldboy, you’ve seen this mofo. What played in my favor though is that although I remembered the finale of the original, I was vague on the chain of events that led me there. The last time I saw Park Chan-wook’s flick was in 2007, so yeah, it’s been a while. So I was engaged the whole time with this one, involved in the sordid happenings 100%. The easy pace, the arresting cinematography by Sean Bobbitt and the random genius storytelling moves by Lee (loved his use of flashbacks and how he conveyed them) definitely helped in keeping me in the game. On that, my main anchor was without a doubt Josh Brolin’s bold performance.

This was the Brolin show through and through as he nailed every phase of his character with gusto: self destructive drunk, beaten down prisoner and jacked up avenger (dude threw down like a champ)! I relished clocking Brolin do his thing and when the film would falter, I still gave a hoot and a nanny, because Brolin was at the center of it all, owning the screen like the man’s man that he is. His pops James Brolin should be proud! NOTE: Oh, and respect on pulling a DeNiro by gaining fat and then losing it to replace it with bulk. END OF NOTE. Add to all that: some nasty red-wet gore bits (this one was way more graphic than the original), an admirable try at echoing the one-take hammer scene from Park Chan-wook’s film (it also owned here but in a different way), a solid supporting performance by cutie Elizabeth Olsen who really made me feel for her, some sly nods to the original (squid), a handful of mucho well done fight scenes and final frames that “moved me” and you get a pretty good flick!

On the flip-side, I didn’t dig that the reality of the film was a tad heightened as it took away from the impact that the story could’ve had. For example Samuel Jackson’s dress wearing and Mohawk sporting goon character was funnier than he was scary. He also came off as Samuel Jackson, playing Samuel Jackson, wild cussing included! Yeah, he kind of took me out of the story a bit. And the same went for the main villain played by the competent Sharlto Copley. He looked like he would have been more comfortable in a Roger Moore James Bond opus than in the damn Oldboy remake. Even his lair was out there! I half expected a phallic missile and “lasers” to pop up. But my biggest peeve was that the film glazed over the hefty themes of the story (the moral questions, revenge, salvation, redemption) in favor of a more light weight approach. Ironically enough, that was my favorite thing about the original Oldboy; it played as an existential essay of one man’s search for the truth while having to be re-acquainted with his own demons to find it. Themes of tragic love, regret, sadness and hopelessness were all up in there! I didn’t feel it so much here. I wouldn’t call this Oldboy for Dummies, but if somebody did, they wouldn’t’ be too far off.

Overall, I’m glad that I saw the Oldboy remake and enjoyed it WAYYYYYY more than I thought I would. Brolin was the key for me for sure; the man made that movie his bitch. So I came out of there a happy moviegoer! All good. In my overrated opinion, this is Oldboy for the casual film viewer, like my mom for example, she’ll love this shite! Drop the hammer!
GORE
This re-do was grislier than the original; pieces of throat carved out, hammer in skulls, stabbings, slit throat and more! Yum!
T & A
Elizabeth Olsen graced us with her bootie and glorious melons. The ladies and gay dudes get Brolin showing off his ass like it was going out of style!
BOTTOM LINE
I didn't want to see it, expected to hate it and... surprise! Although it can't wax the original's "testies", the Oldboy remake made for a groovy sit down! Granted, knowing the ending beforehand played against it for me, but the movie rolled on fast, I was involved throughout, Brolin rocked it and then some while the gore was extreme. Moreover, the imagery was striking, some of the tweaks worked, specially on the finale, the many beat downs were mucho well done and Elizabeth Olsen put her two sisters to shame in the talent/looks department (no offense to the twins). Bummer that the film often played like a cartoon, its villains were too over the top and that the themes and psychology of the piece were lighter hence lessening the oomph of it all. On the whole though, it was much better than I thought it would be and I enjoyed the ride.
BULL'S EYE
Justin Lin was once attached to direct the American remake of Oldboy.

Colin Firth and Clive Owen both turned down the role of the villain now played by Sharlto Copley.

It's said that the producers made Spike Lee re-edit the film. He wasn't happy. Which is why it is listed as a “Spike Lee Film” instead of Lee's usual “Spike Lee Joint”.
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