Runtime: 104 min
Frame Rate: 25 fps
Video Bitrate: 5428 Kb/sec
Audio Bitrate: 384 kbps
Review: Spike Lees reimagining of the Park Chan-Wook cult classic Oldboy is a queer creature despite the notable absence of the originals iconic octopus-slurping scene. Those unfamiliar with Parks original, which itself was based on a late 1990s Japanese manga, will likely find it bizarre and even off-putting; and yet those who have seen and loved Parks 2004 Cannes Gran Prix winner are likely to dismiss this as mild and underwhelming compared to the original. But most of all, there is something distinctly Asian in the tales themes of revenge and solitude that feel an odd and therefore unsatisfying fit for an Americanised reinterpretation.Yes, to call Lees version a remake will be if you take the filmmakers words for it akin to blasphemy. According to Lee, he and his writer Mark Protosevich had not sought to remake Parks movie; rather, they have returned to the manga by Garon Tsuchiya and Nobuaki Minegishi to shape a similar yet somewhat different story that keeps the essential baroque details intact. And so the setup is the same a cold- blooded businessman is drugged and held captive in a windowless hotel room for 20 years, before being let out in a suitcase in the middle of a field.The ever dependable character actor Josh Brolin plays the titular character named Joe Doucett, which we are introduced to as a boozy advertising executive who blows a make-or-break deal by propositioning his clients wife at the very meeting. His sentence for the next two decades while in captivity includes watching a ripped off version of Americas Most Wanted where he is held as the prime suspect for his ex-wifes murder, in between being fed the daily news as well as Chinese dumplings. The question upon his release is not who, but why as District 9s Sharlto Copley plainly puts to him after revealing himself very early into the movie as Joes captor which forms the core of the mystery behind his unusual circumstance.Joe is aided in his subsequent quest for punishment and redemption by a bartender friend (The Sopranos Michael Imperioli) as well as a kind- hearted social worker (Elizabeth Olsen). He has a timeline too Copley threatens to kill his daughter in the next 48 hours if he fails to figure out his identity as well as the reason for his imprisonment. Neither should be unfamiliar to those who have seen Parks version; indeed, despite what Lee and Protosevich claim, they have only sought to vary the details from their predecessor.So instead of an exercise in dentistry when Joe confronts the caretaker of his prison (Samuel L. Jackson), we are treated to an equally grotesque sequence where he slices bits of skin from off the mans throat. Instead of gobbling an octopus live and whole, Joe merely stares hard at the animal in a restaurant aquarium. And perhaps most significantly, Joe gets to restage the original films iconic extended sequence where his character takes on an entire army of thugs with no more than a claw hammer and pure rage - a three and a half minute scene rehearsed for six weeks which to Lees credit, loses none of its predecessors visceral thrills. Notwithstanding the distinct sense of familiarity with the proceedings, there is just something lost in translation. Parks original was the second and perhaps most famous instalment of his Vengeance Trilogy whose exploration of redemption and salvation was firmly set against a unique cultural context; unfortunately, the motivations for Joes imprisonment lack that dramatic heft when yanked out of that context, especially since the inherent familial concepts make much more sense within an Asian setting. Lee also does himself little favour by undermining an otherwise grim and thoughtful story with cartoonish elements, most notably Jacksons garish performance (complete with blonde ponytail we may add) as Joes chief jailer turned tormentor.Thankfully, Brolin anchors the titular role with his compelling presence, built on a single-minded embrace of his characters vengeance. His transformation ...
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