Spike Lee Takes the Helm for OldBoy

Oooh, plot twist!

Deadline.com reports that Spike Lee is now attached to direct the American adaptation of Korean director Chan-wook Park’s awesome, creepy, and demented cult classic. (No word on if Will Smith is still attached to play Dae-su.)

See now, I’m both thrilled and apprehensive (instead of just plain old apprehensive). Spike Lee has one of the best shots of adapting Dae-Su’s character in a really interesting way, and still going with a black lead. And he can create that knot-in-your-stomach, smart crime drama tension I love to feel in the theater. And if Dae-su becomes black in the remake, I’d rather have Spike Lee at the helm than the typical Hollywood director. If he doesn’t, it would be awesome to see Daniel Dae Kim in the role, but with our luck, they’re gonna go with Keanu Reeves. Or Zach Effron. Or Chris Pine. Or maybe Robert Pattinson.

But casting aside, the hurdles are high on this one: the gruesome plot twists would probably freak out US censors, adapting such a complex story is a challenge without altering it, heavy expectations from the fanbase. This may well be a fool’s errand.

Then again, The Departed, which was an aight (though racist) reboot of Infernal Affairs won a bunch of awards. So maybe a fucked up reboot won’t matter unless you know what you’re missing.

  • Jp_philosophie

     Spike Lee is a welcome choice of Director. But he needs great leads to
    pull this off. Depends on their chemistry, this is a cat and
    mouse between one of the darkest and most psychological of good guys,
    and one of the most sinister, creepy and fiendish of evil doers we’ve
    ever seen. Both In Search Of Lost Time.

    My top 5 to take these roles would be good guy vs bad

    5 Tom Hardy (good) vs Ryan Gossling (Bad)

    4)Viggo Mortison (good) vs Sam Rockwell (Bad) or Daniel day lewis (Bad)

    3) Jake Gyllenhall (good) Vs Jacquin Pheonix (Bad)

    2) Christian Bale (Good) Vs Don Cheadle (Bad)

    By far my first choice is…

    1) Leo Dicaprio (good) vs Edward Norton (Bad)

    What do you think? I think the chemistry would be off the charts with my
    first pick. Could be Ed Norton’s next fight club. Hope spike makes a
    good decision.

  • Anonymous

    It’s aight.

    To put it another way – I’d already seen Infernal Affairs and both sequels when the Departed came out. (I used to avoid reviews before watching films – but this is the movie when I started reading them, since I had no idea it was a remake.) The beginning was ok, esp. if you like gratuitous violence. The beginning (and elimination of most female characters) was enough to throw me off for the first 30 mins…once they did the envelope trick, I sat back and pulled the movie apart.

    It ended. The folks in the theater (many of whom are black teens, because that’s the case where I live) gave it a standing O.

    Wasn’t as painful to watch as The Shopaholic or He’s Just Not That Into You, but not really a good movie either. Aight.

  • Digital Coyote

    My mom was ribbing me for my love of Korean movies last night after she saw my Netflix queue.  Old Boy is in the first position.  I have much love for the film (and the others in the series are serviceable).   

    That said, I’ve been sad since Hollywood first announced that it would tinker with it.  I couldn’t imagine squeaky clean Will doing anything like that because it would hurt his “reasonably safe African-American man” image.  Spike can be edgy and subject matter like this needs someone who’s not afraid to go there……but this is probably going to end up a Razzie hall of famer.  The target audience was already going to be small (unless they do an awful lot of sugar-coating with the story) and it might be even smaller because Mr. Lee is perceived as  “angry black [director]” and controversial. 

  • Anonymous

    Ugh, apparently, the studios have Josh Brolin as the top casting pick for the lead role. http://twitchfilm.com/news/2011/07/mandate-wants-josh-brolin-for-spike-lees-oldboy-can-he-fill-choi-min-siks-shoes.php I’d rather see Idris  Elba take the role.

  • ctg

    It would be a shame if he race bends this one, as an african asian, I’d hate to see a fantastic, commercially successful (VISIBLE & INFLUENTIAL), african film maker, just replicate the white, western trend of race bending. As Javan Nelum’s comment points out, POC treatment of foreign culture, and POC race-bending can be preferable to that of whites, and it is for me, but it’s still following the white pattern of dealing with other people. he could make a powerful statement by not simply mimicking white people’s cultural hegemony and behavior. if he race bends this, the blogosphere is gonna be all over it, and they’ll be right to. africans and asians have been polarized, by Lee’s films, Hollywood, and western society generally, and to have a powerful african man, with such a big platform, contribute further to such polarization would be a damn shame, & I know he knows better, cuz we deal with the same issues in african america  

  • ctg

    It would be a shame if he race bends this one, as an african asian, I’d hate to see a fantastic, commercially successful (VISIBLE & INFLUENTIAL), african film maker, just replicate the white, western trend of race bending. As Javan Nelum’s comment points out, POC treatment of foreign culture, and POC race-bending can be preferable to that of whites, and it is for me, but it’s still following the white pattern of dealing with other people. he could make a powerful statement by not simply mimicking white people’s cultural hegemony and behavior. if he race bends this, the blogosphere is gonna be all over it, and they’ll be right to. africans and asians have been polarized, by Lee’s films, Hollywood, and western society generally, and to have a powerful african man, with such a big platform, contribute further to such polarization would be a damn shame, & I know he knows better, cuz we deal with the same issues in african america  

  • hans anggraito

    OWW. This would be a stretch for spike, but i’m still excited. I could see it done with tarantino, but that’s too obvious. If this means we’re gonna see along the line of “inside-man”, then he might be onto something. An american movie about a black guy involuntarily imprisoned for years, released, and set for the ultimate (blind) revenge is THE movie i would set up camp to see. I’m thinking grainy, 70′s, blaxploitation style!! ooh i’m getting a wet dream already. But if the protagonist is a keanu…. my boner just deflated.

  • Brandon

    Guys. Oldboy is based on a GRAPHIC NOVEL series, and as such the ‘remake’ will not fallow the original film but the source material. It really makes my blood boil to see people refur to it as a remake when its NOT!!! Go pick up the books and read them for yourself, cause even the 2003 film deviated from the book in so many ways. Even will smith says so himself in an interview. And for my money, if there is anybody who can be capable of messing up the material, it would be Spike lee. So unlike other ‘blind’ folks who associate the name ‘spike lee’ with genius, Im not really looking forward to it.

    • Anonymous

      You are confusing the two.

      This one, with Lee, is a remake.

      The Spielberg/Smith project was to be adapted from the graphic novels, but that was considered killed in 2009. (Though, it does not mean that Lee would not reapproach Smith.)

      The direction has changed hands, and with it, changed focus.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Javan-Nelums/696759111 Javan Nelums

    Well, I bet Spike Lee have something in his sleeve. Since movies like Airbender, Dragon Ball and 21 took so much heat for Racebending, I don’t think that Spike whould change that much. In fact I was always in favor of a POC Director doing a  foreign film rather than a White one. Also If he does racebend the cast, it will fit into the storyline. If he does well in the movie, I would rather have him to some more anime movies or collab with an Japanese or Korean Director.   

  • Conceding2kismet

    I actually have Oldboy on DVD and I can’t imagine any Hollywood adaptation making this film in any way comparable to the original no matter who is behind it.  Spike Lee’s latest films are more in line with Hollywood formula (not necessarily a bad thing because he can do whatever type of film he likes), so I can’t get too excited about him making anything special out of this.