“Oldboy”! Oh NO! The Worst Remake EVER? Film Fight Club Gets Hammered!

Is It Time To Take A Hammer To Movie Remakes?

oldboy spike lee

This edition of “film Fight Club” wants to smackdown the endless series of BAD BAD BAD remakes that have stunk up the cinema lately – including THESE bombs:

Carrie remake

Psycho remake

worst remakes


Nicolas Cage Wicker Man


Sorry, that last picture of Nicolas Cage destroying “The Wicker Man” is too much for any movie lover to stomach…well, until THIS:


Samuel L. Jackson has every reason to look terrified – its the latest remake disaster! One of the biggest bombs of 2013 was the Spike Lee remake of the classic Korean thriller “Oldboy”…


The film opened Thanksgiving weekend and bombed horribly – but was the remake’s critical and commercial trashing deserved? Is “Oldboy” just another example of Hollywood’s desire to trash every great movie by remaking it wrong?


Time For The Film Fight Club!

Let’s look at Hollywood’s latest remake disaster and see what’s worth fighting about. First, here is a quick look at the original Korean classic “Oldboy.”


Oldboy –

This is the classic 2003 Korean thriller directed by Chan-wook Park – with one of the most intense first ten minutes of any film ever made! It begins with a man who goes on a drunken bender one night, only to wake up trapped in a hotel room. For 15 years!

best korean films of all time

The opening ten minutes of this movie will suck your eyeballs out, so put them back in and enjoy Korean melodrama at its finest. Director Chan-wook Park is a brilliant filmmaker – his is the kind of aggressive, no holds barred filmmaking that many of our American movies lack right now.


The original “Oldboy” has a number of jaw-dropping moments, but perhaps the most notable is the fight scene that involves….well, let just say this: You’ll never walk down a hallway with a ball-peen hammer the same way again…

oldboy hammer scene

The movie gets more and more intense, and the bodies pile up until we find out why he was imprisoned, in a shocking finale…

This is brilliant, melodramatic filmmaking of the highest order – a classic action film.

Cue Spike Lee to remake it.


As a huge fan of the original film, I did everything I could to judge Spike Lee’s version on its own merits. The plot is, essentially the same. Josh Brolin stars as a drunken businessman who wakes up after a night of boozing to find himself imprisoned in a hotel room.

worst remakes ever

“15 Will Get You 20!”

Well, it takes all of five minutes for this movie to turn sour. A longer prologue shows us just what an awful person Brolin is – but did Spike need to do this? It’s just the first of many artistic decisions that not only derail the film for fans of the original, but simply confuse and alienate any viewer trying to enjoy the film…


The story let’s us know that twenty years have gone by, not fifteen years. Why the change? No reason. Strange changes in the story serve to call attention to the film’s inability to entertain like the original.

What The F!??!?!?!

worst remakes ever Oldboy

Look at Samuel L. Jackson. LOOK AT HIM. What is going on here? Oh, and more importantly, WHY? Watch both versions of the film and you will be stunned at Lee’s choice to create Jackson’s character and storyline.


A bit of a spoiler here: Spike Lee has chosen to create some sort of “prison hotel” company, run by Jackson…why? Because apparently we need this type of explanation – but since it is never explained, it’s just a contrivance designed to distract us…


In addition, the Director has made some choices that didn’t work for me at all. In “Annie Hall”, having Woody Allen and Tony Roberts watch flashbacks as they were remembered worked; here, to see Josh Brolin watching the action around him from years earlier was just strange and very distracting…

oldboy remake josh brolin

Bring Down The Hammer!

Yes, the most legendary scene from the original “Oldboy” needed to be “improved” as well…

worst remakes of all time

In this remake, the fight now moves across multiple floors of a parking garage…and the dozen or so men with weapons all bounce around and WAIT FOR THEIR ONE-ON-ONE CHANCE TO KILL BROLIN!

Oldboy remake

It’s almost laughable – he is surrounded by thugs, who all wait patiently – while bouncing around – while he kills them one by one. It was sad to watch, actually….

Cue The Octopus!

And what about this scene?

original oldboy octopus scene

In the original, we see an octopus eaten live…in the remake, in one more example of acknowledging the original in the least interesting way possible, Brolin enters a restaurant and sees this:

oldboy remake

At this point, I let the unpleasantness of the film just wash over me – a laughable villian, endless flashbacks with Brolin watching in the scene, Elizabeth Olsen being exploited in a number of pathetic ways, and then the ending, with the antagonist explaining everything before the movie ends with a “twist.”


Hammer Time!

I tried to judge “Oldboy” impartially – I like many Spike Lee films, and was open to a remake. Yes, I missed the originality of the original “Oldboy”. I missed the deranged intensity of this hammer shot. But it’s more than that…


The biggest danger, to me, is to acknowledge the original when you remake it. I hated the various “homages” put in the remake that lacked any creativity – in fact, they distract – and if you didn’t see the original, they make NO sense – most of all, I hated that “Oldboy” was turned into an unpleasant viewing experience – the shock of the original was emotional and riveting – in the remake, it was simply distasteful…

Oldboy remake

Let The “Film Fight Club” Begin!

So, I want to know: am I unwilling to accept remakes – unwilling to let new Artists re-imagine films for a new generation? Or does this:


Just become THIS in all the worst ways:

worst remakes of all time


Hey, if you like to debate movies, head over to the “filmfightclub” website for stories on horror films, James Bond theme songs and more!

And please, let me know what you think: are these films being remade, or are they being destroyed? Leave a comment at “filmfightclub.com” and let the fight club begin!

Categories: 70's Cinema, Academy Awards, Action Films, Awards, Books / Media, Exploitation films, Extreme Asian Cinema, Film Fight Club, Film Noir, Great Films, Grindhouse, Horror films, Independent Cinema, Movies, Obscure Movies, Revenge Movies, Talent/Celebrities, Uncategorized

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2 replies

  1. Spot on, John! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.



  1. “Burning Man” Inspiration! “The Wicker Man”! Naked Cult Horror! | johnrieber

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