Preconceived notions and pre-preached values and traditions which have been imbibed in us would avert the artistic side from evaluating the stories such as God of Small Things. A novel which speaks of the ultimate act of love yet is regarded as a taboo. Arundhati Roy states it well, clear and takes away the honorary Booker Prize. Based on the similar premise, is the story of the film Oldboy starring Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Oslen, Sharlto Copley and Samuel L.Jackson.
The film is the remake of a cult-Korean classic by the same name directed by Park Chan-wook. The original was appreciated and applauded for its ‘strange and powerful tale of revenge’. It’s American version too runs on the same lines with a little altercation here and there. The film is a revenge-driven drama, induced by incest. In other words, it is the same product packaged in a new fashion. A man, Joseph Ducet (Josh Brolin) is kidnapped and imprisoned for nearly 20 years. His only solace in this solidarity is a television set which gives him a timely update of the outside world. He sees the changes in the world since 1993; Presidents come and go, tragedies happen, terrorist attacks, all this becomes a device to reflect the changing time and date. After 20 years of confinement when Joseph Ducet is released he has to find his captor, free himself of the false charges imposed on him of his wife’s murder, finds his daughter and cope with the new technology. But things don’t seem to go his way in this plan. He has is still a puppet in the entire play, the strings of which are pulled by an anonymous person from Joseph’s past. Why is this person doing what he is doing to Joseph, is a question Joseph has to answer so that he can meet his daughter. The film is full of twists and turns, and some gruesome imagery which defines Joseph’s quest for revenge.
Spark Lee’s previous works Inside Man, Malcolm X, Do The Right Thing, to name a few, have proved his mettle and expertise. However, Oldboy looks like a copy-paste of Park Chan-wook’s work. The film has some mighty combat techniques which will allure the action film lovers. There are spaces when you’d wince at the sight of a person blowing off his head or a chopped body part, but that’s that. If a person has survived watching Final Destination series then it is less likely that they will find this film brutal and violent. The film has some abrupt cuts to reduce profanity with the aim to suit the Indian norms, however this abruptness will leave the viewers confused. What the film offers the viewers along with good action is diagnoses of dark side of human nature, Josh Brolin in a John Cena-ish looks and a villain, Sharlto Copley, who is unperturbed, ferocious, sports lacquered nails and nasal British accent. The climax of the film makes the viewer ponder over the decisions taken by the characters which might seem illogical to many.
Those who have not seen the original will find this film amusing, however for a cinephile the original will work better over the American version.