Anyone who knows me personally or has read my review of Park Chan-wook’s 2003 revenge thriller Oldboy will be aware that the Korean film is one of my favourite movies of this young century. Its initial success and cult status in the West meant it was only a matter of time before a Hollywood remake reached the cinema. Talk of a Steven Spielberg-Will Smith project came and went and instead, ten years after the original, we’re hit squarely in the face with Spike Lee’s Oldboy, a sanitised and surprisingly safe American version. The film is based on the Korean movie rather than the original Japanese Manga but contains subtle and often baffling differences.
The story is of Joe Doucett (Josh Brolin). Doucett is a man on the verge of losing his job, a man who spends too much time with the bottle and not enough time with his wife and young daughter. Following a heavy night of drinking he awakens in what appears to be a motel room. It soon becomes apparent that his ‘room’ is in fact a cell, a cell in which he will spend the next twenty years of his life locked up for a reason that he cannot fathom. While incarcerated Joe is framed for his wife’s murder and sees his young daughter adopted. Inexplicably after two decades Joe is released and given the task of working out who kept him prisoner and why he was framed for the grizzly murder of his wife.