Between 1996 and 1998, a Japanese manga series called Old Boy was published. Written by Garon Tsuchiya and illustrated by Nobuaki Minegishi, it remains a cult classic and has since been turned into a 2003 South Korean film of the same (contracted) name by Park Chan-wook, with an American remake by Spike Lee on its way next year.
Cast in the remake of Oldboy is Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene; more recently, Liberal Arts), and as she was in the Empire Podcast booth recently for an interview, the topic of the controversial remake naturally came up (the conversation starts at 51.47 or thereabouts).
"It's going to be a different story, just because, one, it takes place in a non-descript city in America, and, two, it's ten years later, so technology is different," explains Olsen, who's playing Marie, a caseworker charged with investigating the past of the film's hero. "It's practicalities that have had to change."
"It's not trying to redo the film – it's coming at it from a different view," she goes on to say. "As well as focusing on the primary source of the Korean film, for our film there's also the Japanese Manga, so we're using the primary source of the illustrated novel, really."
The original film itself played quite loosely with its source material, with the manga's hero, Shinichi Gotō – a man who, after a decade in a private prison, is suddenly freed and sets out to find his captors – turned into Choi Min-sik's somewhat different Oh Dae-su. Spike Lee, in turn, has cast Josh Brolin in the same role, which boasts the wonderful name of Joe Douchett.
"I like to compare it to Let Me In and Let The Right One In," adds Olsen. "Those aren't the exact same films, but they're just a different take on the same story."
Let Me In, alas, was not as warmly received as the original it was based on, so hopefully Lee's take on both the Old Boy books and the original film will fare better at the box office - and not offend too many diehard Chan-wook fans.
Lee's Oldboy is shooting right now and is set for a 2013 release. Liberal Arts, Olsen's current film, is out in the UK on October 5.
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