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Trailer for Spike Lee’s Oldboy: Nothing New?

We’ll put our hands up and say right off the bat that we were not looking forward to this remake of Chan-wook Park’s 2003 South-Korean masterpiece Oldboy. It really seemed like the absolute definition of why not to remake a film: namely that it’s brilliant in the first place and because it’s not in English. Unfortunately this (admittedly earlyish) red-band trailer of director Spike Lee’s 2013 interpretation has done little to change our mind:

Lee has again worked with costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who make no mistake is a genius – Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, Amistad, these and more are reasons why she is at the top of her game. Yet because Lee has seemingly gone down a similar stylistic route to Chan-wook Park, she has no real chance to add anything new. It’s all about the black shirt, initially worn by Choi Min-sik, and here resurrected for James Brolin. He’s a shadowy mystery waiting to be uncovered. This suit is taken from the original Manga comic book, but at this stage it’s still difficult not to feel apathetic about the whole venture.

It does look as though Spike Lee has tinkered with the narrative slightly, although let’s face it Park’s horrifically brilliant twist was never going to make this version, was it? Now we have an apparently typical clear-my-name whodunnit with the same black suit and same claw hammer. Perhaps the film itself will hold deeper treasures? Hope so.

Oldboy is released on 25th October.

You can watch Choi Min-sik in Oldboy at

© 2013 – 2014, Lord Christopher Laverty.