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Exclusive: Spike Lee's Oldboy remake test screening reaction says its "just as sick and twisted as the original"

04.12.2013

SPOILER WARNING!

Based on the Manga graphic novel by by Garon Tsuchiya and illustrated by Nobuaki Minegishi, OLDBOY is most notable for it's 2003 adaptation by director Park Chan-wook, winning the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and being called a "powerful film not because of what it depicts, but because of the depths of the human heart which it strips bare," by the late film critic Roger Ebert. Last year, director Spike Lee began filming an American remake of the film, starring Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley, and Samuel L. Jackson.

The remake's synopsis goes like this:

An advertising executive is kidnapped and held hostage for 20 years in solitary confinement. When he is inexplicably released, he embarks on an obsessive mission to discover who orchestrated his punishment, only to find he is still trapped in a web of conspiracy and torment.

Today, we have a trusted source's reactions to a test screening of the film, which confirms the good, the bad, and the ugly. By the very nature of clicking on this story you had to know there would be spoilers, but I'll give you one more chance to turn away.

On Brolin's performance:

Brolin’s performance as Joe (Oh dae-su from the original), in my opinion, can be paralleled to the anti-heroics of Walter White in Breaking Bad: you feel for him, you root for him, but that does not make him a good guy. The exposition of Joe in the beginning of the film does a bit of show and a bit of tell and does the right job of showing how much of a dirtbag he is. That way, when he gets abducted and imprisoned, you say to yourself, “the dick deserves it.” This version follows Joe a little more closely during his captivity (which is for twenty years, rather than the original’s fifteen). Brolin is at his best here as your heart breaks for him and you want desperately for his mental torture and anguish to be over.

On Copley's performance:

When he came on screen, I couldn’t even recognize him. He honestly blew me away with how good he was. You can tell that he’s having a great time playing a bad guy and loves to be the cat toying with a mouse right before he eats it. He comes across as someone who has immense pity for Joe while taking satisfaction from watching him squirm.

On Olsen's performance:

While both her and Copely are in supporting roles, Copely clearly got the meatier part and owns it better. I was a fan of Olsen’s performance, and she gave the character a good amount of depth, she didn’t blow me away nearly as much as Copely or Brolin did. However, I will say that it left me wanting more and I wish that she was given more to her backstory.

On changes, pacing, and cuts:

There are only minor changes, with stuff like the prison sequence being longer and some tweaks to the ending. It’s not shot for shot by any means either, so if you see it, you should definitely expect things to be different and to cringe all over again. In terms of pacing, again, this was a rough cut, but at a little over two hours, it mostly moved along at the right pace. There was some stuff transitioning from act two to three that could be cut and maybe some stuff from the beginning. In the end (and this should be viewed at positively), I felt like I was in the theatre for two hours and was perfectly content with that.

On Spike Lee's style and score (or lackthereof):

I think it’s safe to say that Spike Lee has a certain feel to his movies. In this, though, you can tell it’s not something that is of his own volition. However, is fingerprints are all over this flick. Even if you didn’t know that he directed the movie, the soundtrack, cinematography, vibe and feel of the movie scream Spike Lee. It’s a great touch that I haven’t seen in his other recent movies, like Inside Man. The score, while you can tell is Spike Lee-esque, is one of the only things that bothered me. In some scenes, it perfectly reflected what was going on on screen. In others, there was no score. While that may work for some scenes (like the Batman vs. Bane fight in TDKR), it didn’t work in these. The parts of the film that are tense would be even more thrilling with the right music behind it.

On the violence and similarities of it to the original:

Don’t worry, this is going to be rated R. Much like the original, acts two and three are very sadistic and “wrong.” The violence hasn’t been downplayed even a little bit as its just as sick and twisted as the original. If I had to summarize the violence in three words, they would bloody, gratuitous and hammer.

On the infamous "hallway" fight:

While they are basically the same across both versions, they do have some similarities. Rather than a fight down a long hallway, Joe is tasked with fighting guys down hallways across three floors. Some people in the screening found issue with this, but personally, I loved it. It was ridiculous and over the top in all the best ways. Would it hurt to have it trimmed? No. Would it be the end of the world to leave it as is? Absolutely not.

On the integrity of the ending:

The ending is even more incestuous than the original. The “big twist?” Still in there as is. However, the villain’s character…let’s just say the best thing about incest is that it’s the game the whole family can play! The last few minutes differ greatly from the Korean film in a way that I feel fits this version very well. I don’t want to give away too much, but to me, it almost makes more sense than the original’s ending.

Final thoughts:

Overall, I really enjoyed the movie and I can’t wait to see the final version of it in theatres. Even after seeing the original, I could say that I like them equally as much. The acting, story, and action all outweigh the negatives of the film, which can (and hopefully will be) fixed up before the final cut‘s release. I’ll give it an 8/10. And, as a quick note, the film was presented without a title, so we might have to start referring to it as something else sometime soon.

Sounds pretty good overall. I'm not a Spike Lee fan at all, but he does have his moments when he's able to get out of the way of himself. Here's to hoping he lets the film speak for itself as it sounds like it does. I'm more excited to see Brolin carry the film, as he's come a long way from THE GOONIES and has quickly beome a worthwhile asset to any project he attaches himself to (such as the upcoming SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR). With Sharlto Copley taking on the villain role in Neil Blomkamp's ELYSIUM and OLDBOY it looks like he's going to have a hell of a time chewing up some scenes as well.

OLDBOY is set for release on October 11, 2013.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Extra Tidbit: Does this reaction make you feel better, worse, or the same about the remake?
Source: JoBlo.com

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1:40AM on 04/13/2013
it certainly gets my hopes up a little & Josh Brolin is a good enough actor to carry this type of film. I never went into the thought of believing this film would never top the original film & I don't really feel it's trying to in the first place. As long as the majority of what was in the manga is still in tact then that's all that matters to me really.
it certainly gets my hopes up a little & Josh Brolin is a good enough actor to carry this type of film. I never went into the thought of believing this film would never top the original film & I don't really feel it's trying to in the first place. As long as the majority of what was in the manga is still in tact then that's all that matters to me really.
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+19
9:44PM on 04/12/2013
"While they are basically the same across both versions, they do have some similarities."

What? This sentence, along with much of the rest of the poorly written article, makes no sense.
"While they are basically the same across both versions, they do have some similarities."

What? This sentence, along with much of the rest of the poorly written article, makes no sense.
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12:30AM on 04/13/2013
That was the only sentence I didn't understand. I don't think the rest of the article was -that- poorly written...
That was the only sentence I didn't understand. I don't think the rest of the article was -that- poorly written...
1:38AM on 04/13/2013
Hmmm, I don't think the article was poorly written...just that sentence you mentioned. However, I do wonder if this article talked about the film getting NEGATIVE reaction - all sentences intact - would you have still thought the article 'poorly written?'

I feel some haterade being ingested.
Hmmm, I don't think the article was poorly written...just that sentence you mentioned. However, I do wonder if this article talked about the film getting NEGATIVE reaction - all sentences intact - would you have still thought the article 'poorly written?'

I feel some haterade being ingested.
9:42PM on 04/12/2013
Double post...

:(
Double post...

:(
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9:39PM on 04/12/2013
Sounds good! I'm definitely looking forward to Lee's film adaptation.

I'm reading the manga right now, and plan on checking out the Korean film adaptation soon.
Sounds good! I'm definitely looking forward to Lee's film adaptation.

I'm reading the manga right now, and plan on checking out the Korean film adaptation soon.
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8:52PM on 04/12/2013

Spike Lee

Double post
Double post
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8:44PM on 04/12/2013

Spike Lee

I am Confused, this is a Spike Lee movie right? When does the black guy get oppressed?
I am Confused, this is a Spike Lee movie right? When does the black guy get oppressed?
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9:34PM on 04/12/2013
Well, you're oppressing (i.e. using your power of the internet to put down a movie before it even comes out) and Spike Lee is a black guy who is directing a movie...so, to get technical, you're doing it right now.
Well, you're oppressing (i.e. using your power of the internet to put down a movie before it even comes out) and Spike Lee is a black guy who is directing a movie...so, to get technical, you're doing it right now.
12:43AM on 04/13/2013
@ Joel-- 98.96% percent of all his movies are all about how the black man is oppressed, yeah we get it spike you hate whitey... Not to mention the man himself is a hate mongering P.O.S who acts like he himself was a victim of slavery. The only Movie of his i actually enjoyed was Summer of Sam, because it was an actually movie and not his back take on how the black man can never get a leg up in this world... from the millionaire black director
@ Joel-- 98.96% percent of all his movies are all about how the black man is oppressed, yeah we get it spike you hate whitey... Not to mention the man himself is a hate mongering P.O.S who acts like he himself was a victim of slavery. The only Movie of his i actually enjoyed was Summer of Sam, because it was an actually movie and not his back take on how the black man can never get a leg up in this world... from the millionaire black director
12:53AM on 04/13/2013
Why? Did you get that from the media's version of Spike Lee? Because you obviously don't know his movies. Case and point... 25th Hour. Go watch some movies first.
Why? Did you get that from the media's version of Spike Lee? Because you obviously don't know his movies. Case and point... 25th Hour. Go watch some movies first.
1:22AM on 04/13/2013
@ IHRTNJ-- Spike Lee Oppressed black guy movies- Red Hook Summer 2012, Miracle at St. Anna 2008 , Inside Man 2006 (not so much so but then the secret banker villians turn out to be nazis because Spike Couldn't help himself) She Hate Me 2004, Bamboozled 2000, He Got Game 1998, Get On The Bus, 1996, Girl 6 1996 (Black girl oppressed by QT), Clockers 1995, Crooklyn 1994, Malcom X 1992, Jungle Fever 1991, Do The Right Thing 1989,

Non Black guy oppressed spike lee movies 25th Hour 2002, Summer
@ IHRTNJ-- Spike Lee Oppressed black guy movies- Red Hook Summer 2012, Miracle at St. Anna 2008 , Inside Man 2006 (not so much so but then the secret banker villians turn out to be nazis because Spike Couldn't help himself) She Hate Me 2004, Bamboozled 2000, He Got Game 1998, Get On The Bus, 1996, Girl 6 1996 (Black girl oppressed by QT), Clockers 1995, Crooklyn 1994, Malcom X 1992, Jungle Fever 1991, Do The Right Thing 1989,

Non Black guy oppressed spike lee movies 25th Hour 2002, Summer of Sam 1999, Freak 1998, Mo' Better Blues 1990, yeah guess i was really off the mark on that one



1:34AM on 04/13/2013
Considering that Spike Lee frequently works with John Turturro, and has worked with Martin Scorsese (and considers Scorsese one of his favorite directors) as well as Michael Imperioli, Tobey Maguire and a host of other white actors and actresses, your claim that 'Spike Lee hates whitey' is unfounded.
Considering that Spike Lee frequently works with John Turturro, and has worked with Martin Scorsese (and considers Scorsese one of his favorite directors) as well as Michael Imperioli, Tobey Maguire and a host of other white actors and actresses, your claim that 'Spike Lee hates whitey' is unfounded.
6:08PM on 04/12/2013
Reminds me of the issue I had with Let the Right one in and Let Me In. Let Me In was a good film for an american remake of a foreign film, but even with the minor changes I just couldn't get into it. Part of what makes the originals so great is the experience off seeing the story told for the first time. Going into this Oldboy remake already knowing most the story, there's no way it can be as interesting, even with a good cast and it being a technically well-made film.
Reminds me of the issue I had with Let the Right one in and Let Me In. Let Me In was a good film for an american remake of a foreign film, but even with the minor changes I just couldn't get into it. Part of what makes the originals so great is the experience off seeing the story told for the first time. Going into this Oldboy remake already knowing most the story, there's no way it can be as interesting, even with a good cast and it being a technically well-made film.
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9:43PM on 04/12/2013
I saw both films, and thought they were both good in their own right.
I saw both films, and thought they were both good in their own right.
+0
5:26PM on 04/12/2013
Spike Lee not screwing this up?
Meh... I'm kinda hip for this news... hope I'm right.
Spike Lee not screwing this up?
Meh... I'm kinda hip for this news... hope I'm right.
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2:50PM on 04/12/2013
Still not sure... Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's original version is still better than David Fincher's. Still unsure of Brolin as the main character. Hope I'm wrong.
Still not sure... Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's original version is still better than David Fincher's. Still unsure of Brolin as the main character. Hope I'm wrong.
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2:18PM on 04/12/2013

Sounding a lot better than I hoped...

Love love love Park Chan-wook's Oldboy and was severely worried about it being remade... and then I heard Spike Lee was directing, and I really don't like much of his work (except for Inside Man and Do the Right Thing). It worried me greatly. Seeing these impressions from the American remake, though, really quell a lot of my fears.

-SPOILERS-

I thought I read they were staying true to the manga for the American remake, though, and I heard that meant the "big twist" not being about
Love love love Park Chan-wook's Oldboy and was severely worried about it being remade... and then I heard Spike Lee was directing, and I really don't like much of his work (except for Inside Man and Do the Right Thing). It worried me greatly. Seeing these impressions from the American remake, though, really quell a lot of my fears.

-SPOILERS-

I thought I read they were staying true to the manga for the American remake, though, and I heard that meant the "big twist" not being about incest? Did plans change? It sounds like the incest is still a big part of this one... I'm not complaining, of course, but I did think they said something about the ending twist of the American one not being the same as the South Korean one, because they were following the manga more closely. I haven't read the manga, though, so I can't comment either way!

-END SPOILERS-

Really looking forward to this, though. Josh Brolin is a beast, Elizabeth Olsen is climbing up the ranks, and Sharlto Copley playing the Lee Woo-jin character? AH! Can't wait for that, haha.
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1:51PM on 04/12/2013
I signed a waver not to talk about it... so I'm not going to talk about it.
I signed a waver not to talk about it... so I'm not going to talk about it.
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2:14PM on 04/12/2013
But you just talked about it...
But you just talked about it...
+10
1:47PM on 04/12/2013
Fascinating... it sounds like they've attempted to counter the negative reaction by making EVERYTHING more fucked up than the original. This made it sound like the violence was bloodier than the original film, which was actually fairly restrained in terms of what was actually shown (if not in terms of the impact it had). I wonder if this will be distracting.

The original Oldboy is a damn near perfect film in my eyes, and it's just about my absolute favorite. So while I maintain hope that
Fascinating... it sounds like they've attempted to counter the negative reaction by making EVERYTHING more fucked up than the original. This made it sound like the violence was bloodier than the original film, which was actually fairly restrained in terms of what was actually shown (if not in terms of the impact it had). I wonder if this will be distracting.

The original Oldboy is a damn near perfect film in my eyes, and it's just about my absolute favorite. So while I maintain hope that the remake will be good, there's a good chance I'll come away from it feeling that it was unnecessary. Still, reading this article has made me more optimistic--and if the movie is successful, maybe that will make people seek out the original film, and that couldn't possibly be a bad thing.
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10:25AM on 04/12/2013
I know there has been controversy on this site about whether or not this remake should have been made, but I for one am excited about it. I think it will be one of the better 'Americanized' remakes that we will see. Maybe in the same vein and quality as The Departed.
I know there has been controversy on this site about whether or not this remake should have been made, but I for one am excited about it. I think it will be one of the better 'Americanized' remakes that we will see. Maybe in the same vein and quality as The Departed.
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11:51AM on 04/12/2013
This sounds promising. The Departed was horrid compare to the original. Hope this is not the case. at all
This sounds promising. The Departed was horrid compare to the original. Hope this is not the case. at all
1:08PM on 04/12/2013
@SGC...No, no it wasn't.
@SGC...No, no it wasn't.
9:45PM on 04/12/2013
I thought 'The Departed' was a poor remake, and I was surprised that Martin Scorsese directed that film.

The original Infernal Affairs was a much, much, much better film.
I thought 'The Departed' was a poor remake, and I was surprised that Martin Scorsese directed that film.

The original Infernal Affairs was a much, much, much better film.
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