Pillbox

Review: 'Oldboy' (2013), dir. Spike Lee

Today I watched "Oldboy," an American remake of Park Chan-wook’s 2003 movie of the same name, directed by Spike Lee and released in 2013. While I am not very good at judging movies on any scale other than a spectrum from “I had a good time watching this” to “I had a bad time watching this,” I am at least literate enough to directly compare similar movies to one another. Enter "Oldboy" (2003). The original is so good. I hate reading subtitles on movies, but I had such a good time with this one. It’s dynamic, the plot is unexpected, the fight scenes are so good, I had a GREAT time watching this movie.

I had heard some criticisms of the American version in the past, but I was like, “It’ll be fine, probably just the film bros being snobs or something,” and settled in to watch Lee’s version. Let me tell you, it sure was a movie. Way early on (knowing how the plot is supposed to go), I realized that they definitely changed things. By including a few small details, they really managed to make the plot way more weird and complicated than it ever needed to be. It wasn’t terrible, I’ve definitely seen many, many worse movies, but "Oldboy" (2013) was just all around disappointing when compared to its predecessor. Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen were pretty good in the lead roles, but the fight scenes were less engaging, the villain was less villainous, the special effects were worse despite 10 years of advancement, and the tone was just… off somehow. As a final imperfect little bow on this imperfect little gift of a remake, the ending was WAY less satisfying than the original’s. Overall, I think I would have enjoyed this movie more if I hadn’t seen the original yet.

Final rankings for "Oldboy" (2013):
Did I have a good time watching this movie? Yeah. I’d give it like a 6/10.
Do I recommend this movie? Yes! But only if you haven’t seen the original.