Revenge tales don’t come more hard-boiled than Chan-wook Park’s “Old Boy.” Unless, perhaps, it’s Spike Lee’s “Oldboy,” the 2013 remake of the Cannes-decorated 2003 hit.
At least that’s how it seems in a new trailer just released by distributor FilmDistrict. (You can watch it above.) “Oldboy” follows a similar arc to the original. A man (Josh Brolin, in the part Choi Min-sik made famous) is inexplicably held hostage for nearly two decades -- in this case images from the outside world, from Clinton to Obama, coming to him sporadically through a TV set tuned to television news.
Then just as inexplicably, he is let out. He then embarks on a mission to find and take revenge on those who held him there, while also seeking to find and reconcile with the daughter he hasn’t seen for 20 years.
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The new trailer reveals a compelling sensibility, combining the violence and intensity you'd expect with a mix of “Cache”-like camera voyeurism. “Nothing Is More Twisted Than the Truth,” promises an intertitle, and the images that accompany it make good on that pledge.
There’s a hint of the famous revenge scene from the original -- no tooth-pulling, but a hammer menacingly comes out -- and other glimpses of the stylized violence to come. Lee indulges genre instincts we haven’t seen in a long time -- probably since ”Inside Man,” and that was a very different genre -- in telling the gritty tale. There are weapons being swung, creepy voice-over questions posed and images flickering ominously, as a seriously jawboned and desperate Brolin looks for answers and someone to hurt.
From the looks of things, it’s a daring and unusual experiment: the pulp images of Asian genre film melding with, and given a new spin by, Lee’s art-house sensibility.
The movie hits, as it were, on Oct. 25.