Oldboy Remake Talk Not Dead

By Rafe Telsch 2007-09-30 09:51:41discussion comments
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Chan-wook Parkís Oldboy is a brilliant film. There are some elements to that movie that I absolutely love, from the noir style of the movie to the side-scrolling single shot combat sequence in the middle. Iím not the type to instantly go ga-ga over foreign films, but Oldboy won me over quickly, especially as a product of Korea that didnít rely on kung fu moves and martial arts to wow audiences.

Because I love the original film, I had absolutely no interest when rumors were going around that Oldboy was being targeted for a Hollywood remake. Itís just one of those movies that is done right the way it is, and to adapt it would be to diminish it. Even just in converting it to an American film some things would be lost. I was glad when that talk disappeared, but apparently the murmurs are still out there somewhere.

Coming Soon talked with director Justin Lin, who was the slated director for the remake. When asked, Lin gave the impression that the remake is still lingering out there, waiting to be made, although not necessarily with him: That was a situation where the studio had purchased a property and I love the original movie. Everybody has their opinions on remakes and if the goal was to basically make a Xerox copy, then I wouldn't want to make that. It's a tough movie to remake. It's a big challenge. In the last year, if anything, I've been protecting it a little bit, because if it's not the right situation, then I'm probably not the right guy for it. I think it's one of those things that came and as a young filmmaker, I just want to try things whether I succeed or fail. That one, because it's at a big studio, and I think for all the pieces to fall right and to be able to make the film correctly, I don't know if I'm even the right guy to do that.

I have a lot of respect for Lin for saying he might not be the right guy for this project. But my concern is that American Hollywood might not be the right industry to remake this film. There are some things in the movie that are just flat out taboo typically, and a studio making this movie wonít necessarily be able to regain their investment because of those taboos. The only way to avoid that is to change the story, which then means it isnít a carbon coby and Lin might be interested, but then you also run the risk of pissing off fans of the original.

I think the best course of action here is just to leave the film alone. Lin doesnít want to do a Xerox copy and most fans arenít going to want to see the movie altered for an American retelling. If the original isnít broken, why fix it?
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