Old Boy (2013) Movie Review

Spike Lee's old boy posterOld Boy

  • Rating – R
  • November 2013
  • Director – Spike Lee
  • Josh Brolin – Joe Doucett
  • Elizabeth Olsen – Marie Sebastian
  • Sharlto Copley – Adrian
  • Samuel Jackson – Chaney
Tell Me Why I’m Here

Of course there was much outcry when it was announced the Korean cult classic was getting an American remake. Now, Spike Lee’s version has arrived. With a huge cast of Josh Brolin (No Country for Old Men), Sharlto Copley (Elysium), Elizabeth Olsen (Silent House), and Samuel Jackson (Django), let’s see if this Old Boy can learn new tricks? Yeah, that was bad, don’t worry I’m getting writing lessons for Christmas. Don’t know anything about Old Boy, check our File Notes feature on it.

Marie taking care of Joe

Well, What Are You Going to Do

Joe (Josh Brolin) a marketing executive gets drunk after a disastrous meeting with a client. After stumbling to his friend’s bar, he sees a lady he recognizes from the restaurant and blacks out. Waking up alone in a strange motel room, Joe realizes he is locked in. Twenty years pass by, and Joe is released in an empty field. Fueled by vengeance, Joe must find out who did this to him, why was he locked away, and why he was released.

Joe fighting thugs
Why Did I Let You Go

It is unfortunate that Lee didn’t understand what made the original work so well. This new Old Boy is shorter, which Lee made the story line more direct and to the point. It was like Lee went through a checklist of the main points when making this film. Here is where I think things went wrong. With Lee going to the critical points of the story, he skips out the character developments and explaining on how certain events happened. We don’t really understand the characters motives, perspectives, and how things effect them emotionally. As for the explanation of things, I can’t go to much into it because I don’t want to spoil anything for you. Let’s just say that Park’s version had good explanation of things, Where Lee’s version things were left to chance and coincidence.

Does Lee add anything new? Um…besides a hot Asian body guard, who was there purely just for eye candy, no. There was a hammer scene, but compared to the original, you could feel it was staged, where Park’s version was realistic and raw. Lee decided to leave out the main character’s narrative, and the black humor in his version.

Even though Lee’s attempt at Old Boy wasn’t successful, he did get a really strong performance from Brolin as the main character, and Olsen easily held her own as a supporting character next to him. I felt Copley was limited to his script, because we all seen him as great villain in Elysium. I wish Lee gave Copley a little more playing room. Samuel Jackson is Samuel Jackson. You know, comes in the room dropping F-bombs.

Joe showing Chaney a utility knife
We’re Closed

So the question of the day, is which version is better? The Korean version, hands down with an elbow smash. The next question is it worth watching? No, by skipping out on the character development and the explanation of certain events, it causes the story to be a result of a night drunkeness. I did mention in the original review, where on paper the story seems completely ridiculous, but Park managed to pull it off. Unfortunately, Lee didn’t understand what made the Korean version work so well. I say, avoid it, and try to hunt down the original.

Random Info I got from this File:
  • Never hit on a client’s date, while the client is still there
  • Mice make great friends
  • Having a sexy lady with good martial art skills makes an excellent body guard
  • Always carry an utility knife
Other Files to check:
  • Sympathy for Lady Vengeance
  • Identity
  • Old Boy (2003)
File Status: 3 out of 10
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Graphic designer by day, and movie blogger whenever I can. Been watching films in the 80s and never lost the love for it. Started Movie Case Files in 2012, and kept writing random reviews ever since. Besides movies, I like watching UFC, collecting retro video games, spending time with the wife, and bacon.

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