Friday, November 15, 2013

Opens November 27, 2013 
1 hr 58 min
R | Strong brutal violence, disturbing images, some graphic sexuality and nudity, and language.

Spike Lee's remake of the 2003 Korean film of the same name Oldboy follows the original quite closely.  While both versions are a violent psychological thrill ride, the remake is less humorous and unfortunately, a bit toned down in terms of violence than the original.  Strong performances by Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen and Samuel Jackson keep the film worth watching though.

Oldboy is all about revenge.  Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin) is an arrogant and brash drunk who considers his wife a nuisance to his lifestyle.  When he's abducted and imprisoned for 20 years, he comes out a changed man.  Not necessary repentant of his old ways but definitely more angry at what was done to him.  During his imprisonment, he learns that he was framed for the murder of his wife and his daughter put into foster care.  Frequent gassing and mental games by the warden and guards which he never gets to see keeps him on the edge of paranoia and insanity throughout his stay.

Like the original, the main antagonist Adrian Pryce (Sharlto Copley) wants answers from Joe, as to who Adrian is and why he had Joe imprisoned otherwise his daughter would be killed.  Of course Joe only wants to bash his head in, but without these answers, there's a glaring hole in the closure of this chapter of his life.  When Joe leaves the prison he meets up with his old friend Chucky played by Michael Imperioli as well as Marie played by Elizabeth Olsen.  Marie helps out at a mobile health clinic for the homeless when Joe meets him.  Seeing that Joe is not all together there, she gives him her business card in case he gets into some trouble which of course he does.

Joe and Marie's relationship grows as the film moves along, all while Joe is on the hunt for answers.  Their relationship is pivotal to the story, as is Joe's past that is slowly reviewed.  The mystery of why Joe was imprisoned is one part I found more captivating than the original despite sharing some similarities.  The final confrontation between Joe and Adrian presents an interesting twist like the original but is not satisfying.  

Overall, I would recommend this film, but would recommend you watch the original as well, preferably after the American film.  If you've already watch the Korean version, that's fine as there are a number of slight differences that keeps it interesting to watch.  Some examples of the differences include what the protagonist hallucinates to the method of torture the protagonist performs on the warden.  The biggest difference between the two films would have to be the ending.  Thankfully, key scenes like when the protagonist must battle his way through an army of men remains.  

Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5.0 Stars



  • Josh Brolin as Joe Doucett
  • Sharlto Copley as Adrian Pryce
  • Elizabeth Olsen as Marie
  • Michael Imperioli as Chucky
  • Samuel L. Jackson as Chaney
  • Richard Portnow as Bernie Sharkey
  • Lance Reddick as Daniel Newcombe
  • Max Casella as Jake Preston
  • Elvis Nolasco as Cortez
  • James Ransone as Dr. Tom Melby
  • Hannah Ware as Donna Hawthorne
  • Caitlin Dulany as Emma Pryce
  • Erik Gersovitz as Young Adrian Pryce
  • Linda Emond as Edwina Burke
  • Grey Damon as Young Joe Doucett

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