Thursday, 1 May 2014


Everyone (I wanna see) knows that Hollywood makes too many remakes and does not know when to leave something alone. Often a re-envisioning is surprisingly accomplished, as with The Italian Job or Evil dead II, therefore a consumer can never rightfully write a prospect of a remake off before seeing it for themselves. When I heard about Oldboy getting such treatment I was fairly excited.

Although its fantastical scenarios seem somewhat outlandish in a western location, the first half of the film is a spirited, skilful and endearing spectacle, imbued with honesty and grit.

Among other interpretations, the story can be received as an allegory for law systems; a man has his freedom taken by inconceivable imprisonment, gets released and then vengefully goes and breaks laws by taking out his anger in violent ways, sticking a middle finger up to law and those who imprisoned his life away. The act of rebellion and liberty results in the victim's (law) retaliating with insurmountable punishments. There is no way to win, just take the buggery and smile as you continue enduring the constraints of civility.

The black/white aspects absence from the second and third acts of the film lead one to believe that Spike merely exploited a facet of the main foundational scenario as opposed to interweaving a separate complimentary element into the entire story. This element of servitude and its accompanying face only existing in the context of the protagonists imprisonment can actually be seen as an offensive jive.

The production is highly accomplished, enjoyable for the most part. However, Sharlto Copley puts on a performance that is too theatrical, unskilled and ultimately damaging; the third act focuses on his weak antagonist to the detriment of the whole film. The absurdity fuelled by his performance only serves to expose the absurdity of too many of Oldboy's events and ultimately alienate the viewer.

Concluding a vicious circle of revenge, the honourable ending, changed from the original by way of neutering, closes its pages so swiftly with such an impotent conclusion that the whole film is seemingly rendered irrelevant. Luckily, the iconic long-shot fight scene is reproduced in a clearly superior iteration, that is somehow more realistic and impressive. Wow, Hollywood beating Asia in a fight scene competition.

Despite the unsatisfactory nature of the film, kudos must surely be given to the production for getting Olsen to take off all of her clothes.

Don't watch this, watch the old one.

2.2 / 5

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