Sunday, December 01, 2013


       An American interpretation of the 2003 Korean classic thriller, "Oldboy" is a twisted tale of revenge in any language. Spike Lee directs this English version. When Mr. Lee directs a film that is a personal project, it's known as "A Spike Lee Joint", when he signs on to a film within the Hollywood machine, it becomes "A Spike Lee Film". The finished work is distinctively different but no less interesting. As he did with "Inside Man" (also a Spike Lee film), he leaves a mark with his signature style but here he doesn't really bring anything new to the story (although he does increase the body count in one memorable scene). 

          The film stars Josh Brolin as Joe Doucett, an unappealing drunk who is kidnapped and mysteriously imprisoned for 20 years. When he is finally freed, again for unknown reasons, he emerges a changed man but still out for revenge on the people responsible. The film co-stars Samuel L. Jackson, Sharlto Copley and Elizabeth Olsen in roles I won't spoil for you. Needless to say, they are crucial to the story which takes crazy twists and turns as answers are revealed. Michael Imperiloli also has a role as an old friend of Joe's who tries to help him put the pieces together.

            The final reveal is a nasty piece of business that may turn a stomach or two and along the way, there are scenes of graphic torture and violence so be certainly warned, this is not a film for everyone. It is, however, well acted (especially by Mr. Brolin) and directed with flair by Mr. Lee. And while the endgame is disturbing, the puzzle of the plot is intriguing enough to keep you engaged. Just watch out for those box-cutters and hammers.

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