It looks like the remake of Chan-wook Park’s Oldboy has finally caught fire. Yesterday, we reported that Spike Lee would direct the film and today we’ve learned some new details regarding the remake. Twitch, who first broke the story about Lee’s involvment, reports that Mark Protosevich’s screenplay borrows not only from the original South Korean film but also from the manga that inspired it. Furthermore, the screenplay is said to be similar to how The Departed adapted Infernal Affairs. Protosevich’s script reportedly borrows some elements from the pre-existing works, jettisons others, and introduces new material. The new material makes up about 20% of the remake’s screenplay.
Hit the jump for more details and Mandate’s top choice to play the revenge-driven protagonist.
In a nutshell, here’s what Twitch says we can expect from the American Oldboy:
Just as Park Chan-Wook took a central concept from the Japanese manga while radically re-envisioning parts to create something new, the goal here is not to create a slavish shot-for-shot remake but to take elements of the Park film combined with elements of the manga and completely re-envision and re-contextualize those to create a specifically American story around the same concepts and themes. Time will tell what that actually looks like on screen.
If you have to go about remaking Oldboy, this is the way to do it. It allows Spike Lee to make his own stamp on the material rather than exist in its shadow. There’s no way to out-do what Park accomplished so it’s best to avoid a simply “Americanized” version where the only thing that’s really been changed is the ethnicity of the characters and the need for subtitles.
Twitch also reports that Mandate has Josh Brolin as their top choice to play Oh Daesu (I imagine the name will be changed), the story’s protagonist who is mysteriously imprisoned by unknown captors and then released without explanation fifteen years later. While I usually roll my eyes at wishlists, this does tell us that the studio isn’t trying to cast the latest teen heartthrob but a talented actor with tremendous range. While I still think Denzel Washington could be brilliant in the role (going simply from what it is in Park’s film; I haven’t read Protosevich’s screenplay), you’ll get no complaints from me when it comes to casting Brolin.