Hollywood remakes of Asian films are bollocks

The real Old Boy - accept no substitutes!
The real Old Boy – accept no substitutes

I refuse to even look at the cover of the remake of Old Boy, at least partly because I made the mistake of watching the Hollywood version of Ring.

The original Korean Old Boy (trailer here, although it’s not great) is one of the finest bits of cinema ever made, albeit one that’s difficult to watch. Choi Min-Shik is probably the only actor in the universe who could take on the role of Oh Dae-Su, and he chows down on it the way he chows down on the unfortunate octopus in the dining scene. The rest of the cast, especially Yu Ji-Tae, carry their roles with aplomb, and everything about the film, from writing, direction and cinematography, to lighting, set design, and soundtrack, is superb. That’s probably why it won the Grand Prix at Cannes, a festival not noted for rewarding crap. You won’t even be able to blink for the whole time, in case you miss something.

Then there’s Ring (don’t watch the IMDB trailer, whatever you do). The Japanese original takes creepy horror to new heights, and on a budget that probably wouldn’t buy a single ad on late-night TV. I, like Ching Yee, watched it in a sparsely populated cinema, although in that case it was a bloke who yelped at the critical scene – I wasn’t breathing at the time, which was probably all that saved me from doing likewise.

The Hollywood version, however, removed all the virtues of the original and replaced them with utter bollocks. And this seems to be a common trait of Hollywood – films are mostly unsubtle and overdone, with points hammered home as though they think their audience all have the attention span of a kitten and the intelligence of a tapeworm.

If Old Boy and Ring were wall art, they’d be in chiaroscuro, accompanied by a Schubert trio: in contrast, every Hollywood remake of an Asian film is done in crayon, accompanied by a brass band and a kazoo.

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