I had so much fun writing my Point Break (1991) vs. Point Break (2015) post that I was dying to do something similar. My chance finally arose when I decided that Oldboy (2003) would be my first Blind Spot movie of the year. I’d heard terrible things about the 2013 remake and since I ended up enjoying the South Korean original so much, it was an easy decision!
You can read my full review of the original Oldboy here, but let me recap my thoughts for you quickly. It was brilliant, it was dark, twisted, uncomfortable at many times, and smart. So smart in fact that one of my very few criticisms would be that I struggled to follow the story at some points, but that’s largely down to my inexperience with foreign movies and having to rely on subtitles.
From what I can gather, Oldboy fans didn’t want a remake. Why mess with a classic? The same question is on many lips with all of the Disney remakes we’re getting this year and I can see where they’re coming from, but I do have a counterpoint. Wouldn’t it be beneficial for an Americanised remake to stir curiosity in moviegoers, enough to make them watch the original?
So let me cut to the chase. I watched the remake. I really enjoyed it! Was it as good as the original? No – but as a couple of my fellow bloggers told me – a lot of the hate is undeserved.
Spike Lee’s version is very much a reimagining of the original, it’s been adapted for a Western audience. One wouldn’t be wrong in saying it’s also been ‘dumbed down’, but I would say not to the point where the twist becomes less shocking.
There were two noticeable nods to the original that I spotted. The street vendor who sold Joe the rubber duck for his daughter is wearing a pair of angel wings, just like Oh Dae-su wore in the opening to the original. Marie has a tattoo of an octopus on her arm which is a reference to the octopus that Oh Dae-su ate in the original. I love spotting things like this and I wonder if there were more!
A few things that I want to complain about:
– The ending didn’t have the same impact. It was moving in the remake but horrifying in the original.
– The bad guy in the remake was almost funny in how over the top he was. The bad guy in the original was quiet and chilling.
– The fight scene in the corridor. You know the one I mean. It was just nowhere near as badass!
All in all, you just can’t beat the original. That said, I really don’t think the remake deserves the hate it got. If you’re intrigued by the premise of the movie but don’t have the patience to read your movie, I don’t think you’d be doing a terrible thing by giving the 2013 version a go.