It's official. On Monday, Spike Lee confirmed rumors that he would be directing a remake of acclaimed 2003 Korean film Oldboy — an odd, arty, superviolent tale of imprisonment and revenge that won both the Grand Jury Price at Cannes and a devoted fan base. Is the polarizing Lee the right man to bring Oldboy to America?
He'll have his work cut out for him: I have to wonder if the auteur is up to the task, says Kevin Sullivan in Entertainment Weekly. From Do the Right Thing to Inside Man, he's certainly shown that he's a versatile director, but this is a unique challenge. The graphic imagery that drew fans to the original — a man eating a live octopus, for instance — will likely be too much for American audiences. "Lee faces the unenviable task of maintaining the shock value of the original, while attempting to not alienate a mainstream American audience."
"Is Spike Lee right for the Oldboy remake?"
He's an intriguing choice: "Lee could be a really nice fit with the material, and I'm betting there's a real fire burning in him right now," says Drew McWeeny at HitFix. He's had a hard time getting movies made of late, and he seems "particularly frustrated." If it gets made, Oldboy could be his first movie in some while, and you can bet that "it won't just be a safe, simple remake."
"Spike Lee signs to direct Oldboy remake"
But a risky one: "This Oldboy remake could turn out to be a well-crafted vision of the source material — especially if Lee focuses on telling the story, as opposed to trying to tell one of his well-branded 'joints,'" says Kofi Outlaw at Screen Rant. Lee is a controversial figure given to speaking his mind on matters of race and politics, which can be off-putting. But his talent as a director can't be denied. If you look back at 1989's Do the Right Thing, it's clear that "visually speaking, Lee was a filmmaker ahead of his time."
"Spike Lee directing Oldboy"