Steven Spielberg and Will Smith are in early discussions to collaborate on a remake of Chan Wook-park's "Oldboy." ... Spielberg had been looking for an opportunity to make a film with Smith, who would play the kidnapped man if all the pieces fall into place.
This is bullshit. This is going to be The Departed all over again.
The Korean does not play the race card very often, but this situation calls for it. This flurry of Asian movie remake has racism written all over it. Yellow face doesn't sell; Asians are too foreign.
The Korean does not buy the idea that the remakes are happening because Americans are too lazy to read the subtitles. How do you explain the wild success of Life is Beautiful, Pan's Labyrinth, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, all shown in American theaters with subtitles?
In fact, all three movies were so successful that they were all available in English-dubbed version in theaters and on DVD. You are telling the Korean that Oldboy, a legend among Korean movies that hooked numerous non-Korean moviewatchers to Korean movies for the first time, would not sell in American theaters with subtitles or dubbing? That makes no sense.
The fact that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was fine without a remake featuring Chuck Norris, but Oldboy requires a remake featuring Will Smith, is telling. Hollywood is operating under the assumption that people would watch Asians wielding swords and walking on air, but not Asians portraying intricate emotion that accompanies a complex plot. This is purebred racism, no more, no less.
:::SPOILER::SKIP THE NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED OLDBOY::SPOILER:::
Who knows -- maybe Spielberg would be less shameless than Martin Scorsese, and this film would contain some genuine creativity on his part, making it a true derivative rather than a straight-up plagiarism like The Departed. In fact, casting Will Smith shows a little bit of potential in that direction. Smith adds a little bit of humor element to the Oh Daesu character, and his reaction to the crazy confinement may make the movie entirely different. Also, the Korean has a hard time believing that there will be a graphic display of incest in a Spielberg movie.
After all, Oldboy is based on a Japanese cartoon, at least as far as the 15-year confinement part. Creativity relies heavily upon borrowing. So if the American version of Oldboy adds something new and unexpected to the story while maintaining the basic setup of the movie, the Korean would not get upset. However, if the movie ends up being like The Departed's plagiarism of Infernal Affairs, down to dialogues, character appearances, camera angles and stage setup, the Korean will just lose it.
Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-EDIT 11/13/08 8:42 a.m.- While reading on this topic, the Korean found this gem:
If this is not a conclusive argument against the remake, the Korean does not know what is. (Source)