Neon has bought the US distribution rights for the South Korean film ‘Oldboy‘, with the idea that they’ll be releasing it in select US cinemas for its 20th anniversary.
Whilst dates for the re-release haven’t been specified yet, with it being too soon after the acquisition, it’ll be the first time in nearly two decades that cinema-goers will have the chance to catch the South Korean revenge thriller on the big screen.
“Dae-Su is an obnoxious drunk bailed from the police station yet again by a friend. However, he’s abducted from the street and wakes up in a cell, where he remains for the next 15 years, drugged unconscious when human contact is unavoidable, otherwise with only the television as company. And then, suddenly released, he is invited to track down his jailor with a denouement that is simply stunning.”
Oldboy follows Dae-Su, played by Choi Min-Sik, a man given five days to find the man responsible for his kidnapping and incarceration over the last fifteen years. A critical success, it, unfortunately, didn’t do very well at the box office, taking a paltry $700k at the US box office. It has gone on and developed a bit of a cult-classic following, with many considering it one of the finer foreign language films, as well as one of the best revenge thriller films out there full stop.
Featuring one of the greatest and most iconic continuous long shots in cinema, Oldboy is a film that has been influential beyond its years on movies and television. Take Netflix’s Daredevil series for example, where each season had a long, uninterrupted fight scene clearly influenced by Oldboy, and that’s just one of many examples. Other revenge thrillers took cues from the film, whether it was story beats, directorial decisions, or violence, it cannot be understated how important the film is to modern cinema.
Related: Top 7 Revenge Films
Oldboy doesn’t hold back on its visceral and realistic violence with Dae-Su’s favorite weapon of choice being a claw hammer, which he uses to great effect. Part two of Park Chan-wook’s ‘Vengeance’ trilogy, following his Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and preceding Lady Vengeance, which was released the following year in 2005.
Such was the popularity of the South Korean original, Hollywood decided in its infinite wisdom to reboot it for American audiences. As they usually do when attempting a reboot of a foreign film, they managed to butcher the entire film, with the motivations of the characters, relationships, the story, and more all falling foul of best intentions.
Starring Josh Brolin and a young Elizabeth Olsen, it had the cast to produce a good film, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Hollywood did a similar thing when they remade the Swedish film Let The Right One In, titling the American version Let Me In as if the general audience would find it too difficult to understand the original title or read subtitles in the first place.
As mentioned many times in many different articles over the internet, Hollywood has become an industry of remakes, reboots, and established franchises, never taking the chance on a fresh IP for audiences. Whilst the re-release of Oldboy isn’t going to change this trend, if it gets enough success hopefully it’ll show the higher-ups that there is a big want from audiences for foreign language films, especially when they’re as good as the film in question.