Oldboy (2013)

No, no, no, no, no!  This is even worse than I feared.  Not only is this OBVIOUSLY terrible, it’s also HILARIOUSLY terrible.  What a blow.

Oldboy tells the story of a man who is imprisoned for years – he doesn’t know who by, why or where.  What’s perhaps stranger though, is that one, without warning or explanation, he is released.  He sets about trying to unravel the mystery, and even though it’s Josh Brolin (who I really like), I kind of don’t care.

What have I done...?

What have I done…?

With such stupendously awesome source material, they should’ve been able to create a passable offering.  But, no.  This is really, really bad.  In fact, it’s actually so bad it’s funny.  Key elements of the plot have been changed, to the point where I’m not sure it even makes sense.  While the original was startling, overwhelming and shocking, this version feels contrived and empty, devoid of any kind of, of…guts!  Even the violence, and there are indeed some very violent scenes, fails to move.  The brutality is somehow sterile.  It’s a classic case of style over substance, but without the style.  There’s a scene where Brolin takes on about a dozen attackers, cracking people on the head with a hammer, that almost had me in hysterics.  I don’t think that was director, Spike Lee’s, intention.

As for the performances, Josh Brolin looks embarrassed and Sharlto Copley is more comical than menacing.  Thankfully Elizabeth Olsen is actually quite good.

I’m not sure what the point of this remake is, other than to cash in on the success of the original be appealing to audiences who won’t watch films with subtitles, even when they’re far superior.  Sometimes English language remakes work (did anyone not love The Departed?), but this one really doesn’t.

I can’t stress strongly enough how much I dislike this film.  The Korean Oldboy is visceral, gut-wrenching, engaging and gritty.  I might even go so far as to call it a masterpiece (a word I don’t use lightly).  This one is not.  It is utterly superfluous, soulless, and I wish I hadn’t watched it.  In time, maybe I’ll forget.

Score: 1/10

Do yourself a favour and watch this instead

26 responses to “Oldboy (2013)

  1. yeah, I didn’t love this one so much either, but I think u hate it much more than I did probably due to the fact that you say the original. I’ve heard it’s extremely graphic and being that I’m one of those people who aren’t the biggest fans of non-English language movies, I haven’t had the occasion to check it out yet. I think I probably should tho one of these days.

    Nicely done!

    • Thanks, Rob. You know, I was actually wondering if I might have quite liked it if I hadn’t had the original to compare it to.

      I usually find I forget about the subtitles 5 minutes in, but they can be tough if you’re tired or like to multi-task! I highly recommend you give the original a go if you have the chance.

      • Yea, im a multi-tasker 😦
        Perhaps one day I’ll be brave enough. I’ve heard that it may be a bit too graphic for me.

      • It’s utterly brutal, visceral and bloody, and TOTALLY BRILLIANT. I’ve quite a strong stomach, and a love of horror films so I’m not the best person to advise when it comes to whether others might find on screen violence too much!

  2. I’ve purposely avoided this because how much I like the original. I’m also quite a fan of Park chan-Wook. I have heard some good things about this, but mostly from people who haven’t seen the original. Great review.

    • Thanks, Craig! It’s funny you say that because I was just pondering that very idea – would I have liked this if I hadn’t seen the original? I think I might have.

      As it stands, this is one of the most pointless remakes I’ve seen, and you’re a smart cookie for avoiding it. I’m afraid curiosity got the better of me.

  3. Just another one in the string of remakes of awesome South Korean films that are turned into utter garbage. Makes me glad I avoided this and stuck with watching my copies of the original trilogy.

  4. I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch this yet. I love the original, and I know the remake will be godawful. 1/10, though, wow, I didn’t think it would be that terrible!

  5. This film should not have been made, don’t see the need for it. I’ve yet to see it I keep putting it off, I don’t want it to diminish how I saw the original because that was a top notch film.

    • Puhleeeeease stick with the original! I imagine you’ll find the violence hard to stomach, but will see the artistic merit of it. This remake is purely turgid and pointless.

      • I’m waiting until the hubby can watch it with me so I can close my eyes during the most violent parts & ask him what’s happening. He hates that but he’ll do it. ; )

      • That’s devotion! It is pretty hard going, but definitely worth watching. Be sure to swerve this piece of crap, though.

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