Fans familiar with the work of South Korean director Park Chan-Wook will be enthused that his classic 2003 project Oldboy isn’t just getting the remastered treatment in stunning 4k, but also being sent out to theaters worldwide starting August 16 this year.
Based on the manga with the same title, Oldboy is a brutal and depressing film about the abduction of an arrogant and detestable alcoholic Dae-Su.
His kidnappers imprison him in a room for 15 years, without human contact and with only a television to stay his descent into madness. Then Dae-Su is mysteriously set free and cajoled to take revenge upon his hostage-takers, his mission culminates in one of modern film’s most barbaric and exquisitely beautiful symphonies of one-man retribution.
It is unofficially part of what Park has called his “Vengeance Trilogy” of films. With 2002’s Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance at the start of the arc, then Oldboy, and 2005’s Lady Vengeance rounding up the third movie.
Hollywood eventually tried to make its own spin on the original, released under the same title in 2013 but starring big name American actors like Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen. Even though it was directed by Spike Lee, an admirable filmmaker himself, the vibe and overall aesthetic could not be replicated. It was almost universally panned by both genre fans and critics.
The forthcoming 4k version and release will be under Neon, the studio that had secured distribution and restoration rights. Part of the motivation to release it to theaters was that, in the early 2000s, the movie didn’t have a very wide run when it came out.
In time with the 20th anniversary of the movie, Neon hopes that the occasion will celebrate the spirit of the original and spark a new worldwide appreciation for its impact on modern filmmaking.
After all, without Oldboy’s influence the homage “corridor fight” sequences in projects like Netflix’s Daredevil, The Raid Redemption, or even the videogame Sifu wouldn’t exist. It also later paved the way for South Korean shows and movies with a similar aesthetic to break into the mainstream, including Squid Games and I Saw the Devil.
There will likely be more news from Neon regarding the schedule of worldwide screenings as the release date nears. Backed by two decades of being a strong cult favorite, the neo-noir movie is likely set for a great resurgence for veteran fans of horror and those who are just getting into the works of Park Chan-Wook.
Watch the trailer for the remastered version: