Oldboy remake by Spielberg and Smith?
This beggars belief. The idea that Steven Spielberg and Will Smith will be attempting a remake of the Korean film that no one thinks can be remade in Hollywood, Oldboy, seems almost insane, but that's the news coming out today.
Previously it was Justin Lin that was the one trying for a remake, and looking back on that now it seems a much better choice than Spielberg and Smith...doesn't it?
Chan Wook-Park's film Oldboy (Filmstalker review) has attained cult status with most people talking about the incredible twist ending that really sucker punches you, however I find that the entire film is superbly written and shot, and makes for a superb alternative to all the Hollywood conveyor belt films that are out there.
Oldboy tells the story of a family man who is kidnapped and held in a prison for fifteen years without any explanation, he just survives and slowly goes a little mad in the process. Suddenly, without warning, he's released and given a mobile phone, money and some clothes. With the phone he's given some kind of “assistance” to set about trying to discover what happened fifteen years ago and why he was locked up and his life destroyed.
For some time Justin Lin has been working on a remake, but he's been surprisingly protective of it and didn't want to lessen the original:
"Everybody has their opinions on remakes and if the goal was to basically make a Xerox copy, then I wouldn't want to make that. It's a tough movie to remake. It's a big challenge. In the last year, if anything, I've been protecting it a little bit, because if it's not the right situation, then I'm probably not the right guy for it...
...If it's not totally there, it's not worth it. I personally haven't been able to find the right fit nor the right rhythm, so we'll see. I honestly will probably move on from that."
That comment from him is rather surprising, you wouldn't think that he would stop short of bringing such a guaranteed hot property to western cinema, but he's turned it down, and after a long attempt too. You can read more about that by leafing through the Oldboy stories on Filmstalker.
Apparently, according to Variety through Rope of Silicon, Steven Spielberg and Will Smith are in early negotiations to take the story to Hollywood and Universal Studios. I can hardly believe that could be true, and that it could work.
For those of you who have seen Oldboy, a fantastic film, I seriously doubt that a Western version will be able to be made and have the same impact, and I doubt that they could make it a nice PG-13. No this would seriously upset the MPAA and half of America, and at the same time probably most of the original Oldboy fans.
There's no doubt that a Hollywood remake, particularly from these guys, would seriously pull back on the punches and we'd get a watered down version of Oldboy.
That said there are glimmers that might suggest otherwise - Saving Private Ryan, Munich, Schindler's List – these films hint at an edge and hardness that could deliver the right western Oldboy, but we'd need much more of this and no sickly sweet Spielberg, something that there has been a lot of in his fifty film career to date.
Smith has something that could be interesting too, his new found serious acting gig, something I've spoken about since Six Degrees of Separation. He's doing harder and more dramatic roles both in front of and behind the screen.
Would he work as a lead, or just producer? I think it will take some radical changes for him to take the lead of the film, and I don't see him taking the lead with the storyline as it is.
Do you think that Spielberg could really deliver an Oldboy remake, and where does Smith fit into all this?