• Oldboy (2013) - One of the better Hollywood remakes - 8/10 (03/12/13)

    Despite the negative critics, this is a more than concinging nod to the original


    There are a lot of controversial discussions about this movie and I would simply like to add my own opinion. First, let me tell you that I am a big fan of Asian and especially South Korean cinema. The original Oldboy movie was one of the first movies introducing me to South Korean cinema many years ago. I have watched this movie over and over again and it never stopped fascinating me. I am a big fan of original director Park Chan Wook who also made other amazing movies such as the drama "Joint Security Area", the diversified "Sympathy for Mister Vengeance" and the emotional comedy "I'm a Cyborg, but That's OK". The original main actor Choi Min Sik is one of my favourite actors ever who performed in classics like the action blockbuster movie "Shiri", the grizzly masterpiece "I Saw the Devil" or recently in the strong gangster epic "New World". Most Hollywood remakes of Asian movies are quite poor because they can't transfer the magic and uniqueness of the originals and don't add any essential own elements or new plot ideas. When I heard that there would be a Hollywood remake for Oldboy I was frustrated and expected they would dishonour another unique masterpiece. 

    To my own big surprise, this remake is very decent. If you haven't seen the original, you might like it anyway but even if you're a fan of it, this remake is worth your attention and respect. 

    There were some elements I liked better and some parts I didn't like as much as in the original. Let's start with the negative. 

    First of all, I think that the villains portrayed by Sharlto Copley and Samuel L. Jackson are shown a little bit too quickly in this movie. The remake should have kept a few surprises for the middle part of the movie. The original also revealed the villain's identity too quickly in my opinion but the remake made these mistakes even faster. 

    Even though the actors are doing a great job, the relationship between Joe Ducett and Marie Sebastian isn't as appealing, mysterious and later on darkly passionate as in the original film. The story behind it isn't explained in a very credible way in the end.While the remake feels like the predictable love story of two suffering people who need to support each other, the original had a more mature, philosophical and subtle touch. 

    The famous stabbing scene from the original is unbeatable. While the original was quite graphic, the remake starts the same way but turns out to feel like a slapstick moment. This kind of humour doesn't really fit into the movie at that point. This is something I would have expected from a Tarantino movie but not from this kind of movie with a calmer, darker and more menacing tone. 

    While the final scenes of the remake are fine and even add some new elements to the original plot as the film and music studios, I still prefer the ending of the original including the photo book, the hypnotizing scene and the closing moments in the nature. This kind of ending was courageous and made people adore or hate this movie. The makers westernized the original film and gave it an own identity with a less controversial ending here. 

    Concerning the positive aspects, I like the fact that the introduction took more time to show us the backstabbing, greedy and ignorant behaviour of the main character. When we see this character changing over the next twenty years, these elements add some depth to the character development. The first fifteen minutes or so also introduce the viewers to several potential foes who could have imprisoned the main character. As in a classic crime movie, it makes you guess who might have done it. Let's also add that this additional development made me appreciate the main character a lot more than the original one that was perfectly portrayed but a completely different character. This is where Hollywood is trying to do something different. Instead of creating a monster that has lost its mind and acts in a very odd way, it portrays us an arrogant, disrespectful and superficial human being that actually becomes a caring father who knows how to deal with convictions, perseverance and responsibilities. Josh Brolin is doing an excellent job.  

    I must admit that I prefer the new villain. The way he acts, looks and talks has a very unique style. I had never heard of Sharlto Copley before but I have him on my list now. 

    I don't want to give away too many details but I liked two more elements in this remake. First of all, the events that happened to the villain's family were effective, intriguing and gave me goosebumps. 

    Last but not least, I liked the way how the excited villain shows his guest his secret rooms and everything he did over the past twenty years.  


    In the end, I was positively surprised by the high amount of positive aspects in this remake. The movie kept the most important elements from the original and added some own ideas to the formula. The acting was flawless with the character development being the strongest point. The movie was entertaining from the beginning to the end and had no boring moments. The original had a few lengths and less character development but on the other side, it first came around with this amazing plot and included a couple of legendary scenes that can't be found in the remake: the squid eating scene, the brutal stabbing scene, the main character's desperate self-mutilation and the hypnotizing scene in the cold nature. The original is still better and worth nine if not ten points while the remake only gets a generous eight points from me. This movie really is one of the better remakes I have seen and not as bad as people say. 

    « Barque Of Dante / 但丁之舟 reviewsThe Book Thief (2013) - Another sophisticated and lengthy drama about Germany's most evil twelve years in history - 7/10 (06/12/13) »
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