Tonight on DVD I saw the Korean movie Oldboy by South Korean newcomer Chan-wook Park. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes this year and is absolutely incredible. Explaining the plot can't begin to do justice to the movie, but basically, as IMDB explains it: "A recently paroled middle-aged man, who spent 15 years in prison without any explanation as to why he was jailed, seeks revenge on those who brought him down."
At various moments, Oldboy reminded me of, in no particular order: The Manchurian Candidate, A Clockwork Orange, The Truman Show, The Fugitive, Weekend, and Kill Bill. So it got me wondering: When is it going to be released in American theaters? (I saw it on a friend's Asian-imported Region-3 DVD.) Well, thanks to Universal Pictures, it may never be.
Universal has apparently bought the rights to Oldboy , but so they can re-film it using white American actors and a different director. As if that weren't bad enough, Universal's box office hopes for the remake will be such that they'll prevent the original Oldboy from being released, so as not to compete with their version.
I know this is far from the first time this kind of tactic has been used, but that doesn't make it any less frustrating. Sure, this is a business, and you can call me naive for saying this, but I still maintain an expectation for companies to at least show some semblance of artistic integrity. When will I learn?
Luckily you can buy a multi-region DVD player these days for less than $100, and the web makes getting ahold of a Oldboy copy pretty easy. Not a happy ending, but with that proverbial kernel of hope that makes for your typical ending.