Oldboy Remake Seemingly Cut
About two weeks ago, we noticed a statement made by lead actor Josh Brolin where he hinted that the Spike Lee-directed US remake of the South Korean drama Oldboy would offer more character depth and a more relaxed structure in its 3-hour rough cut. But cinematical releases of films are often driven by other priorities since the more they appeal to the norm in terms of the runtime, the more screenings can be planned in cinemas and less patience has to be expected from the audience. Even if that means that severe interference has to be made. For Oldboy, that process resulted in a final theatrical runtime of 102 minutes.
And now, Spike Lee indicates that there's some fury brewing underneath the surface. Even though his film is not a 1:1 copy of the South Korean original, the remake shot a similar sequence that was considered a signature scene in the original. There, the film's protagonist fights off a large number of opponents in a narrow hallway, only equipped with a hammer. That scene was shot in one take and Lee directed a variation of that sequence in a parking lot which turned out to be three times as long.
In an interview with the NY Times, he complained in a sour tone that he was forced to cut that scene, as well:
As the interviewer tries to get to the bottom of that, Lee only adds "tough [fucking] business" as an explanation. The recipient of that description is not entirely clear, so for now you can choose between the producing studio with its financial interests or the MPAA which in some instances proved to react quite uneasy when a violent scene becomes too playful. Either way, it appears as if the least of the people involved in the Oldboy remake are entirely satisfied with the theatrical version.