Spike Lee's upcoming film Oldboy has some seriously hefty shoes to fill. The remake takes on the unbelievably sadistic tale of a man imprisoned for 20 years until he's released in his older age and tasked to uncover the mystery of his strange circumstances.
The story comes from Japanese manga, but is more commonly known thanks to the 2003 Park Chan-wook film of the same name. When the 2013 film's sneak peak footage aired at New York Comic Con, fans were hungry to find out just how close to the merciless story of Park's original film Lee would stay, considering how appalled American audiences might be when the final twist is revealed. And if we're to believe the words coming out of the NYCC panel, movie-goers should prepare themselves for quite a shock.
But first, a little background. What's all the fuss about? Here's why some people might have trouble digesting a spot-on remake: In the original Oldboy (those who've not yet seen the 2003 film and don't want to be spoiled should turn back now on pain of major spoiler divulgence), the lead character Oh Dae-su follows a path of vengeance and discovery until he learns the truth behind everything and one devastating fact: the woman he's been sleeping with and working with is actually his daughter. He was unable to see her grow up from her young, young age, and thus had no idea when he met her in his old age. This was the goal of the elaborate 20-year revenge scheme enacted by his tormentor, Lee Woo-jin. As a teen, Dae-su caught Woo-jin in an incestuous relationship with his sister and spread the word, not knowing of the familial ties. This drove Woo-jin's sister to suicide, and thus began his quest for vengeance.
The question on every Oldboy fan's mind is: will the American remake attempt this daunting and potentially emotionally-scarring story line for audiences across the country? We got a fairly extensive answer from the new film's writer, Mark Protosevich at the NYCC panel: "We're just as psychologically screwed up [as the original] ... The expectation was that we weren't going to wimp out." He added that with the remake. they set out to "try to do the same type of thing here."
Of course, fearing that he'd said to much, Protosevich backpedaled and threw in a few phrases about how the goal is to "honor the original" without copying the original, but his mind games won't work here. If you ask us, this seems like a pretty resolute answer. As uncomfortable as the original ending is, Oldboy just wouldn't be Oldboy without it.