Watch The Trailer For Spike Lee’s Oldboy Remake

Hollywood’s clear-eyed fascination with repackaging cult foreign films for English speaking audiences who can’t be bothered to read subtitles has produced some conflicting results over the years. Vanilla Sky, Cameron Crowe’s shot for shot remake of dizzying Spanish psychological thriller Open Your Eyes was bloated and perfunctory. Best Picture winner The Departed, on the other hand, Martin Scorsese’s rollicking pathos-rich retelling of Hong Kong cops and robbers mind maze Infernal Affairs, became something else entirely when transplanted to the snow capped streets of South Boston. And Let Me In, the English-language remake of cult Swedish vampire drama Let The Right One In was probably somewhere in between.   

It is with some trepidation, then, that we approach the first trailer for the new Spike Lee joint, a head scratching Hollywood remake of South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook’s 2003 revenge trilogy opus, Oldboy.

Here’s the synopsis: “An advertising executive is kidnapped and held hostage for 20 years in solitary confinement. When he is inexplicably released, he embarks on an obsessive mission to discover who orchestrated his punishment, only to find he is still trapped in a web of conspiracy and torment.”

As fans of the original will know, that heart-wrenching “conspiracy and torment” part provides one of the most haunting third act twists in the history of modern cinema. But is the dull brilliance of a photocopied a-ha moment enough to make you want to view another version of it all over again? Probably not. Especially if you know the ending. But it’s not just the plot they share. Components of the production design and cinematography (see: glowing fluorescent lights, penthouse apartment showdown and a brief glimpse at the video-game-style side scroll action sequence which stands as one of the most memorable set pieces in cinema) all remain intact.       

It remains to be seen whether Spike’s new version adds more. We certainly hope so. 

The stellar cast includes Josh Brolin (No Country For Old Men, True Grit) , Sharlto Copley (District 9), Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction) and The Sopranos’ Michael Imperioli.

Oldboy is slated for release October 25.