Last Friday I heard something that annoys me. I heard that they’re going to be doing a Hollywood remake of “Old Boy”.
Now, there’s a few reasons I dislike American remakes. They’re never as good as the original. They’re generally tamer than the original. The bigger problem is when you get a remake from two entirely disparate societies (which you also get with movies and TV shows made in the fifties and sixties as well). You have to change the base of the movie from what it was to what is acceptable for the country that’s remaking it.
And that’s what really scares me.
Granted, the American remake of “Old Boy” is being done by Spike Lee. He’s a director that I immensely respect for his film making. His movies are gritty and real. I also respect that he’s made an effort to make his films more diverse.
Does that mean that I think that he can do “Old Boy”? Not necessarily.
“Old Boy” was originally a live-action movie that was adapted from a Japanese manga to a Korean movie by Chan-Wook Park. I have just started reading the manga, and as far as the beginning goes, it seems to be fairly accurate so far.
“Old Boy” was the first movie of the Vengeance Trilogy that also included “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance” and “Lady Vengeance”. While the other two movies were really good, they didn’t quite have the oomph of “Old Boy”. That could have something more to do with the manga-ka (manga writer) Garon Tsuchiya… regardless, it was a well-thought-out story that captured you and kept you even through the brutality of the movie.
Now, my bigger concern is some of the more taboo topics the movie touches on. I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to spoil the movie for those of you who are reading this and have yet to see it. I think that because it’s an American film they’re going to cut out a lot of the sex because… and lets face facts, it’s more like “No Sex Please, We’re American” (yes, I meant to change the title of the British original).
And this is where we run in to problems. America might be one of the few first-world countries that is truly puritanical when it comes to sex. Here in lies the real problem. America will remake movies that have a lot of explicitness. They’ll keep the violence but they’ll nix the sex.
That’s my real fear for this movie. They’re going to alter part of the core of the story and get rid of the big show for the sake of it being able to make it marketable to the US.
And then there’s the diversity of the cast. Racebending wrote an interesting and pertinent article on the diversity of the movie here: http://www.racebending.com/v4/history/spike-lee-tweets-diversity-oldboy/ .
I hope that Spike Lee can keep the integrity of the movie as it originally was. I just can’t hold my breath on that. I think that it will wind up a pale version of the original with all its brutality. That’s what’s really sad.