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So, in case you haven’t seen the Korean film Oldboy, based on the epic manga and filmed as part of Park Chan-wook’s “vengeance” trilogy, you might want to stop reading. Because I’m going to post some major spoilers here. Because there are things in Oldboy which just wouldn’t really work with an Americanized remake.
Which normally wouldn’t be a big deal, except that Steven Spielberg and Will Smith are talking about remaking the 2003 Korean film.
Oldboy is a fantastic action film as it is. It’s got some of the most grotesque and amazing sequences I’ve seen. And the entire message of the film is a blind quest for vengeance. And features a scene where a guy beats the crap out of a horde of other guys while wielding only a hammer.
But by the end of the film, you find out that a lot of the motivations and actions in it are tied up in incestuous relationships. Brother/sister and father/daughter relationships figure into it. And I really don’t see most American audiences being able to deal with that.
Don’t get me wrong, I think that Will Smith is a fantastic actor. Especially in action roles. But I just don’t think there’s a need for an American remake of Oldboy. Not only is it going to be damn near impossible to improve on the original, I don’t trust an American version to capture a lot of the feeling and emotion of the original. American cinema and Asian cinema, especially Korean cinema, are drastically different. So, rather than try to expose people to different styles of cinema, we serve up remakes on a piping hot, star studded platter.
Look at The Eye with Jessica Alba, Mirrors with Keifer Sutherland and other films of their ilk. Yes, The Grudge and The Ring did well as remakes. But even with those? I can’t tell you the number of times I had customers at my old job ask if we had “the original version” of either movie…because they were generally regarded as scarier.
I’m just asking American filmmakers to give some original scripts a try. Stop remaking old movies, stop remaking foreign films, go out and start trying to find good original scripts. Do you know why people were so shocked by Diablo Cody’s script for Juno? Because they assume that the only way to find scripts is to look at people who have already made it as writers in Hollywood, or ideas that have already succeeded. Maybe they should take the hint: if you want new ideas, don’t look at what you already have. Look at what you’re missing.
And leave Oldboy out of this.