<b>HAMMERTIME:</b>  A businessman (Josh Brolin) seeks the person responsible for his unexplained 20-year captivity in Spike Lee’s remake of South Korean cult classic <em>Oldboy</em>.

HAMMERTIME: A businessman (Josh Brolin) seeks the person responsible for his unexplained 20-year captivity in Spike Lee’s remake of South Korean cult classic Oldboy.

Review: Oldboy

Josh Brolin, Elisabeth Olsen, and Samuel L. Jackson star in a film written by Garon Tsuchiya, Nobuaki Minegishi, and Mark Protosevich and directed by Spike Lee.

In the 1960s, cereal box contests allowed poorer kids the opportunity to enter if they supplied something called a “reasonable facsimile” of the product’s logo. Spike Lee has supplied American and other Anglophone viewers, fearful of films with subtitles, a reasonable facsimile of Chan-wook Park’s violent, beautiful, Palme d’Or-winning, taboo-stomping revenge fable Oldboy.

The story, based loosely on a Japanese comic, concerns a dissolute businessman (played in this version by Josh Brolin) out on the town in a drunken state who then suddenly wakes up in a windowless, door-less bad hotel room, where he is imprisoned for the next 20 years. But that’s just the setup, beginning somewhere in a pulpier version of the Hitchcock universe. The real tale unfolds in a more time-honored combination of Greek and Jacobean tragedy, as the businessman violently crashes through a landscape rich in revenge, incest, and a mad grope for meaning.

Lee, who hasn’t made a movie this good since his long run of personal films in the early 1990s, still can’t come near the real reason Parks’s film was such a sensation at Cannes ten years ago and is still a cult classic today. And it all boils down to style. Park was restlessly inventing ways to make comic book hyperbole translate to a big screen in a way that made you wince but not turn away. This Oldboy is tame by comparison, though many might find it violent. Lee’s film is lucid, fascinating, and despite a more intensely lurid family romance twist, a reasonably good fake.>

For showtimes, check the Independent's movie listings, here.

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