Spike Lee’s ‘Oldboy’ gets Korean release this week

By Claire Lee

American remake of Park Chan-wook’s iconic film arrives after suffering boxoffice slide in the U.S.

  • Published : Jan 12, 2014 - 19:26
  • Updated : Jan 12, 2014 - 19:26
A scene from Spike Lee’s “Oldboy.” (9ers Entertainment)
The American remake of famed Korean auteur Park Chan-wook’s iconic 2003 film “Oldboy” is finally arriving in Korean theaters, after suffering a box office disappointment in the U.S.

Directed by Spike Lee, whose works include “Do the Right Thing” (1989) and “You’re Nobody Till Somebody Kills You” (2011), the film stars Josh Brolin as Joe Doucett, the American version of Park’s Oh Dae-soo (played by Choi Min-sik back in 2003), who becomes imprisoned in a hotel room for 20 years without even knowing who his captors are or their motives. It opens in Korean theaters on Jan. 16.

The revenge thriller opened in 17th place at the box office on Nov. 27 in the U.S., and has grossed $4.07 million worldwide. “Oldboy” is now considered one of the worst-performing films of Spike Lee’s career.

Park’s 2003 film, on the other hand, was both a box office and a critical success, attracting 3.3 million viewers in Korea alone. It also received positive reviews and numerous awards at home and abroad, including the Grand Prix at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival and the Best Foreign Independent Film prize at the British Independent Film Awards. Last year marked the film’s 10th anniversary.

Spike Lee’s film is different from Park’s 2003 movie in a number of ways. Unlike Oh Dae-soo in Park’s film, Joe Doucett is held captive for 20 years, instead of 15. Upon his release, Doucett falls for a young social worker named Marie (played by Elizabeth Olsen), who offers to help him find his daughter, Mia. In Park’s film, Oh Dae-soo falls for a young, attractive sushi chef, Mi-do (played by actress Kang Hye-jung). Lee’s and Park’s films also have different endings.

Actor Charlto Copley plays Doucett’s captor, which was played by actor Yoo Ji-tae in Park’s film.

Park has directed four films since the success of “Oldboy,” including the 2009 vampire movie “Thirst” and last year’s “Stoker” ― which marked his Hollywood debut and starred Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska. Actor Choi Min-sik, who played Oh Dae-soo, continued his success as an actor, starring in numerous films including “I Saw the Devil” (2010), “Nameless Gangster” (2012) and “New World” (2013). He is set to star in Luc Besson’s upcoming film “Lucy,” alongside Scarlett Johansson and Morgan Freeman.

Actor Yoo Yeon-seok, who made his acting debut in Park’s “Oldboy” as the young Woo-jin, Oh Dae-soo’s captor, rose to stardom for his performance in the recently concluded TV drama series “Reply 1994.”

By Claire Lee (dyc@heraldcorp.com)