The Thanksgiving holiday is always filled with good cheer and good food but for this year’s celebration you can add a side of creepy. Spike Lee’s latest joint, Oldboy, starring Josh Brolin, is a remake of a 2003 South Korean film itself adapted from a Japanese manga (animated film). After advertising exec Joe Doucett is mysteriously captured, imprisoned for 20 years and then freed with no explanation, he becomes understandably obsessed with finding out who abducted him and why. Doucett’s quest for revenge, in the bloodiest way, is the film’s main theme. Lee says that it’s a perfect film for holiday time, but given its subject matter, maybe not right after the meal. Lee’s own description of seeing it with an audience gives you some idea how violent Oldboy is.
“We had the premiere in New York, and I would say 95 percent of the people had not seen the original,” Lee told Theverge.com. “And I really think that even though it’s a dear, cherished, cult film, you can’t leave out the fact that it was a Korean film with subtitles. So not that many people have seen it. So it was just great seeing it with an audience, and their reaction. People holding their hands over their eyes, and screaming, and turning away from the screen and all that stuff. The exact stuff that we wanted.”
Lee is used to generating controversy with his films. This is one of just a few movies that Lee has directed but not written, including Summer of Sam, The Inside Man and The 25th Hour. South Korean director Chan-wook Park, the film’s original director, gave Lee his blessing to re-do the film as long as Lee did it his way. Which of course, he did. In Oldboy he reunites with “Jungle Fever” actor Samuel L. Jackson who Lee helped bring to the national prominence he is now via that groundbreaking role. When asked by the Tom Joyner Morning Show team about their beef, Lee denies any ill will between the two.
“We didn’t have beef, we just had philosophical differences.” “Rich man beef,” is what the TJMS crew says it was. Nevertheless, Lee says the two patched up their differences to make the movie. “We’re cool. Sam called me up and said I want to be in Oldboy, so I sent him the script. He never missed a step since Gator –he and Halle Berry in Jungle Fever. How could he and I have beef? We’re Morehouse men. The House! The House!”
Directed by Lee, Undisputed Truth, Mike Tyson’s no-filter one-man show, is playing on repeat on HBO and his Kickstarter project Da Sweet Blood of Jesus about people addicted to blood but aren’t’ vampires hits next summer. Lee says that Tyson, who had a run on Broadway and around the country with Undisputed Truth worked hard to be credible onstage.
“He had like a month of rehearsal but he was committed to the act, ”Lee says. “He’s on a stage by himself and he didn’t have a Teleprompter. He’s working, he’s working.”
Lee, now 56, with a daugher in film school, has made many successful movies both inside and outside the Hollywood system. But he couldn’t be happier for his cousin, Malcolm D. Lee, director of Best Man Holiday who got his start on Lee’s 1988 movie School Daze as a high school senior.
“He’s killing it. Malcolm Lee, very proud of my cousin. We’re happy with the success of his film but as I told him the other day, you gotta make another one quick,” Lee laughs. “He wasn’t waiting. It’s hard to get movies made.”