Mixed or average reviews - based on 41 Critics What's this?

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Mixed or average reviews- based on 74 Ratings

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  • Starring: , , ,
  • Summary: 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. [Film District]
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 41
  2. Negative: 11 out of 41
  1. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Nov 26, 2013
    In the end, the most impressive performance may be Spike Lee's. He uses skill without gimmickry, flash without fuss, to tap the mesmerizing soul of this pulp.
  2. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Nov 26, 2013
    Oldboy is an immersion into pure twistedness. The purity of its twistedness is its saving grace.
  3. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Nov 27, 2013
    Lee’s Oldboy stands on its own. It just stands a bit shorter.
  4. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Nov 26, 2013
    Spike Lee's remake of 2003's Oldboy is as brutally perplexing as the South Korean original, and needless for both its repetition and tweaks. Nothing is really lost in translation, or gained.
  5. Reviewed by: Charlie Schmidlin
    Nov 26, 2013
    While Lee edges in enough unique elements to argue a second look at the brutal revenge tale, his lean, blackly comic result is transcendent only in fits and starts, stripping away much of its thematic and emotional heft into one of the most frustratingly accomplished disappointments this year.
  6. Reviewed by: David Ehrlich
    Nov 26, 2013
    A slumming Spike Lee is still better than most directors at the top of their game, but Oldboy isn’t just Lee’s worst movie, it’s practically his “Wicker Man”.
  7. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Nov 27, 2013
    The longer it drags on, the sillier it gets. A preposterous narrative, illogical red herrings, trick endings, bad acting and—shazam! — Spike Lee turns into M. Night Shyamalan!

See all 41 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 22
  2. Negative: 8 out of 22
  1. Nov 29, 2013
    Everyone in the review section is a idiot. They're just hating on it because it's a remake.

    This movie was great. I'll just leave it at

    And IMO this stacks well with the orginal, I'll even say it does just about everything better.
    Again don't listen to these but hurt idiots, they just can't take off their nostalgia goggles.
  2. Feb 25, 2014
    Spike Lee's remake of Oldboy isn't even near as cool, as memorable or as effective as the original cult classic, but it does have it's good elements such as a fantastic score, decent acting (apart from a laughable and campy Sharlto Copley, who is usually fantastic in his roles), nice visuals and motifs and some fantastic sequences. This remake comes off more as entertaining than intriguing. The film's major flaws is that the first 10 or so minutes are horribly acted and edited, the pacing is odd, it feels like they cut a tone of footage out (which apparently did happen) and the twist is not as effective as it was in the original. Overall, it is decent remake and is pretty enjoyable with the most part with some great sequences and a fantastic score, but it is unnecessary and not even near as memorable as the cult classic that inspired it. Expand
  3. Dec 2, 2013
    A few others have said this already but be wary of both the critical and user reviews they seem to largely be commenting on this movie in relation to the original. And I'll put it out there and say, without question, the original is better. If you haven't seen it, you should.

    If you haven't seen it and just hate subtitles (which is a shame, but I understand there are people out there that feel that way) this is absolutely a worthwhile film. It is dark, unpleasant and at times shocking. As noted elsewhere, some of the artistry and complexity of the original is lost here. But, what remains is a much more adventurous and disturbing film than you will find just about anywhere in Hollywood produced cinema these days (certainly I can't recall anything this dark getting a wide release). If you like your movies shocking, upsetting, violent, gritty and generally just extreme you can do a lot worse than giving this a watch.

    For those that have seen the original but are curious about the remake, so long as you go in knowing it's in no way going to beat the predecessor it's passable. I realize people are divided on Sharlto's character I thought it worked, but agree it was not nearly as well done as it could have been. The first and third act have some significant changes mostly for the worse, I feel, but I credit Spike Lee for actually trying. And I should note they aren't changes to neuter the extreme nature of the film quite the opposite actually, I feel they just didn't work. In particular, there was a great line in the original, 'Smile and the whole world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone' (or something to that effect) which is haunting within the context of the film but is never used here. Despite it being a small thematic element I found it one of the most profound and the film suffers greatly for not introducing it. All that being said, I still prefer this over the shot-for-shot remake of 'Carrie' where the director tried nothing new and presented us with basically just a carbon copy of the prior film.
  4. Dec 1, 2013
    I came into the movie with open arms and i tried to embrace it but it just fell flat. Yes, I am comparing it to the original. Is that unfair? No, every remake has the opportunity to learn from its predecessor and fix mistakes but Lee's Oldboy doesn't do that. There are a few enjoyable sequences in the beginning but after Brolin goes to meet with the antagonist, the movie is almost worthless to continue watching. It doesn't match the pacing, suspense, or acting from '03. It's so poorly directed that I laughed at inappropriate moments. And there's this soap opera behind-the-shoulder zoom-out around the finale that feels like a megaton bomb of garbage thrown in for good measure; to assure that no one would walk away satisfied from the theater. There's no contest between this and the original. In it's own right, I give the movie a 5. 5 for the first half of the movie and 0 for the other half. On a side note, Josh Brolin was not the right choice for this project. He can't match the dynamic emotional acting that we saw Choi give in 2003. That was so critical to the sympathy the main character is supposed to draw. Expand
  5. Nov 28, 2013
    Simply put, some movies should never be remade. "Oldboy" serves as a stark reminder with only a few exceptions: Americanized remakes of beloved and admired foreign films inevitably result in disappointment. For viewers unfamiliar with the history behind Spike Lee's "Oldboy," the 2013 film is a remake of the cult-classic 2003 South Korean film of the same name, directed by Chan-wook Park. The Korean masterpiece possess a highly stylized, gritty sensibility while providing an emotional depth to its characters. Iconic director Spike Lee's "Oldboy" is as a handsomely shot piece of genre entertainment, but it fails in its attempt to define itself, resulting into a completely pointless, watered-down underwhelming thriller.

    An alcoholic whose life is falling apart, Joe (Josh Brolin) is far from the ideal father who is willfully neglecting his three-year-old daughter, Mia. Drugged and kidnapped one night, Joe awakens in a small room with a television, only to learn that he's been framed for the murder of his ex-wife, and will spend the next 20 years trapped in this cell where he is held as a prisoner. During the duration of his imprisonment, he trains his mind and body for escape attempts while pouring his heart out to Mia in letters. After two decades of torment, Joe is suddenly set free, seeking out an old friend Chucky (Michael Imperioli), and meeting Marie (Elizabeth Olsen), an advocate for the homeless who helps him in his cause. Hunting for the individual who locked him away, Joe spares no one as he works his way to Adrian (Sharlto Copley), a deranged man masterminding the mystery Joe and Marie are now determined to solve.

    Director Spike Lee, working from a screenplay by Mark Protosevich "I Am Legend" (2007), chooses to simply rehash the plot for his American remake, and quickly rushes through the unusual and unique storyline unable to establish an emotional connection with the audience which the original film develops so well. Lee's picture clocks in at a lean 104 minutes, 16 minutes shorter than Park's "Oldboy." As a result, the storytelling is rather straightforward, and it forces Lee to rush through crucial sequences which are not given the adequate time to develop. Subtly goes by the waste side, and almost abandoned completely early into the third act in favor of expeditious explanations.

    The remake remains largely faithful to the story of the 2003 effort, but seriously lacks in intensity and a sense of meaning. The original film achieves a sublime blending of ultra-violence with extreme art, while the remake feels bogged down in its copycat status, and its overall lighter tone hampers its enigmatic, disconcerting story of revenge. My advice is to avoid this altogether, pull up the original on Netflix, and deal with the subtitles America.
  6. Mar 14, 2014
    Terrible movie, completely detracts from the original manga and has lots of gaps. Just because Samuel L. Jackson appears give it a 3. And do not misunderstand me, not for being a remake is bad, is that they changed the whole plot and nothing makes sense.

    I still believe that this movie was made just for that 5 year olds understand. Not everything has to be explained, we must appeal to deductive capacity Mr. Lee.
  7. Mar 4, 2014
    I saw the original first just to make a comparison and this was a really clumsy remake. All the subtleties of the original were bulldozed with obvious plot points that the original only gave away at the end. As twisted as the story is, I actually cared about the characters in the original. Spike really should have spent a little more time developing the main characters and maybe this would have worked. Really disappointed Expand

See all 22 User Reviews


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