Posted on Tuesday, July 12th, 2011 by Russ Fischer
After being thought dead for quite some time, the new English-language version of Oldboy is really happening under the direction of Spike Lee. His hire was confirmed yesterday via a press release, and the language of the release made the project, which is based on a script by Mark Protosevich, sound as if it is more a direct remake of the Park Chan-wook film than an adaptation of the original Japanese manga that inspired the movie. (We’d once heard that the US version would be based more off the manga than the film.)
Now Twitch, which was first on the scene with the report of Spike Lee’s involvement, says that we can expect to see something that is related to the original Oldboy film in a similar way in which The Departed was to Infernal Affairs.
The Twitch report says that the Park Chan-wook film and manga are both being used as primary sources for the new version that Mandate is producing. It sounds as if the dominant influence will definitely be the film, rather than the manga. But this Oldboy is from some of the same producers behind The Departed, and just as that film sometimes heavily reworked Infernal Affairs to a US setting (both geographic and cultural) Oldboy will also have a handful of notable changes.
We can likely expect about 20% of the Mark Protosevich script to be “entirely new material,” and as Twitch says, ” 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.” That’s possibly a very good balance, and if nothing else, The Departed is a reminder that a remake like this doesn’t have to be neutered, as many have feared with Oldboy.