Monday, November 10, 2008

FILM: Spielberg Remakes "Oldboy"

When I was in college, one of my film professors showed us an example of what is known as the "long take," a continuous shot without any cuts that lasts for several minutes. The film he used for this example was the 2003 Korean action thriller Oldboy.

It was about a man who was kidnapped and kept prisoner for 15 years for no obvious reason. When he's suddenly released and given money, a cell phone and clothes, he decides to use his freedom to find the person behind his imprisonment and get his revenge. It reminds me of Jet Li's 2005 action movie Danny the Dog, where he plays an orphan who was held as a slave and treated like an animal until the day he escapes and is taught how to exist like a socially functioning human. When his master comes after him and his new family, he decides to fight back. It sounds a whole lot more Oscar-worthy than it actually was. But Oldboy has critical acclaim and this man's solo journey for his captors is heralded as one of the best Korean films there is.

So naturally, Steven Spielberg has plans to remake it...with none other than Will Smith in the lead. This summer, after his superhero flick Hancock skyrocketed to number one, Smith became known as the only actor in Hollywood who has managed to have eight consecutive #1 films in the box office. It was only a matter of time before the major production companies and critically acclaimed directors tried to cash in on that cow. But is a film like Oldboy really meant for a guy like Smith? He's usually accustomed to playing the selfless hero with a few minor character flaws. Sure, Hancock wasn't exactly a boyscout, but in the end, well, it's Smith. You know, he can do no wrong.

And that's not to say that he can't act like a vengeance-seeking, closeted, homocidal maniac. I just don't think it'll guarantee him a #1 spot again. But that's just me. What do you think?

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