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Oldboy 2013

3.5 out of 5 stars (97) IMDb 5.8/10

Spike Lee's remake of the critically acclaimed Korean masterpiece, OLDBOY, follows the story of Joe Doucette (Josh Brolin), a man who is abruptly kidnapped and held hostage for 20 years in solitary confinement, for no apparent reason.

Starring:
Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen
Runtime:
1 hour, 44 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Thriller, Action & Adventure
Director Spike Lee
Starring Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen
Supporting actors Sharlto Copley, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Imperioli, Pom Klementieff, James Ransone, Max Casella, Linda Emond, Elvis Nolasco, Rami Malek, Lance Reddick, Hannah Ware, Richard Portnow, Hannah Simone, Ciera Payton, Cinqué Lee, Steven Hauck, Caitlin Dulany, Ilfenesh Hadera
Studio Universal Pictures
BBFC rating Suitable for 18 years and over
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray
An advertising executive is kidnapped and held hostage for 20 years in solitary confinement, without apparent reason, or explanation.

When he is released, he embarks on an obsessive mission to discover who placed him there, and their rationale, only to find he is still trapped in a web of conspiracy and torment.....

Let's get the housekeeping out of the way first. The original is brilliant, easily one of the best films to be made in the noughties, and one of the most impressive, visceral and disturbing films made. And obviously a remake was inevitable.

The answer to the question 'should the film have been remade?' Is a simple 'no'.

But hey it has, and to be fair, it's not a bad movie at all.

But it was never going to find an audience who would appreciate it really. People who have never heard of the original, probably wouldn't appreciate the dark tones of the film, and the disturbing narrative, and fans of the original, well, let's just say, it wouldn't be cool to like this movie.

Lee has a wonderful eye, and the best thing about this movie, is the camera work, from the faithful re-imagining of the hallway fight, to the flashbacks where both time lines are melded together.

Brolin is as brilliant as expected, and whilst on screen, you are thanking whatever you believe in that the makers didn't cast Will Smith, because this would've have been diluted for the mainstream, and he would have sung a song at the end.

Copley makes a decent villain, but it does take you a while to get over his accent. It's very Dick Van Dyke by way of Don Cheadle in Ocean's 11.

Jackson is good, but seems out of place in this, given very little to do other than dress strangely and swear.
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Format: Blu-ray
Smarmy drunk and vulgar advertising salesman Joe Docette(Josh Brolin) thinks he has gone as low as he can after blowing a business deal in spectacular fashion but he wakes up after a particularly heavy bender to find himself in a room without any means of escape and there he stays for the next twenty years whereupon he is released and vows vengeance upon his captors aided by a young reach out program assistant(Elizabeth Olsen)

Those familiar with Park Chan Wook's 2003 korean original(and there are many)might be wondering why bother and after this versions spectacular tanking at the US box office (gross under a million on Thanksgiving!)surely then it must be awful.Well it is and it isn't.

In the plus column Spike Lee adopts a straight forward approach to the material making it easy to follow throughout and while the basic reason for everything remains pretty much the same, Lee eschews Wook's 3rd act one two punch of gore and surrealist fatalism in favour of a more prosaic(visually clever though)tying up of the plot strands and it is never boring thanks in large part to Josh Brolin who is good value as our put upon protagonist.

However the film does suffer from a bunch of ham fisted nods to the original(no, the octopus scene is left well alone save for a brief nod in a resturant scene) and the notorious hammer sequence is not even close to the splendid madness of that sequence in the original. Sharlto Copley as Docette's nemesis is perfectly dreadful.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Lets deal with the elephant in the room first - this is a remake of the film Oldboy (2003) directed by Park Chan-wood. The original is brilliant and is a better film than this version in every way so if you're only going to watch one version and you're not averse to subtitles, watch that instead.

However, having said all that, I was still pleasantly surprised by this version. On its own terms I thought it was a good film. Solidly directed by Spike Lee and boasting a quality cast, all on good form, it's more than worth a watch.

The set up is simple but fantastic - a man is abducted, locked up for 20 years and then released. He has no idea who imprisoned him or why and now we follow him as he seeks answers to these questions. It turns into a rather violent quest, quite graphic in places and the tale takes some good twists and turns. It's likely to keep you guessing up until the disturbing outcome. Good stuff and underrated in my opinion.
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Format: Blu-ray
I'm as cynical as the next person when it comes to remakes, especially ones that involve foreign films. Most of the time, they do not add anything, or improve on anything from the original and often only exist to capitalise on the originals success. So Hollywood offers us the same story, but in English, because apparently they think a Western audience is too "stupid" to read subtitles. Now this remake of 'Oldboy' is no different from what I mentioned above, but it's not as bad as some would have you believe.

Yes, it does offer the same story as the original. It hits the same beats as the original such as 'one take hallway scene', but their not necessarily worse, or more watered down than the original, their just not better either. The story also lacks the strong sense of atmosphere that the original had. This new film at times has this strange 'noir/detective' atmosphere/tone to it that doesn't really fit with the material for me.

The film as well feels like there's bits missing to it. The characters feel undeveloped and that there is more to a scene and we've not been quite given everything at times. This makes sense, considering that the director Spike Lee's apparently preferred version of the film was roughly three hours long, but due to studio involvement, had to be trim it down. So we are missing about an hour and 20 minutes of material here.

Now all these things aside, let's look at this from a different perspective for a minute: Remake or original, how many big studios are putting out £30 million characters driven films with stars, that aren't 'Oscar' contenders these days? Not many. How many are putting out £30 million, character-driven films with stars, that aren't 'Oscar' contenders, with dark subject matter and an 18 rating, remake or original?
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