I just watched the American version of Oldboy and I have a few things to say (spoiler alert?):
Could have used more gore and less music. The single take fight scene was alright… but for an implicit homage to spatter films, it needed a good bit more, well, spatter.
Sympathy for Lady Vengeance > Oldboy (Korean) > Oldboy (American)
AV Club said that Spike Lee was a hired gun on this piece. BS. His fingerprints are all over it, for better or worse.
Choi Min-sik>Josh Brolin (no offence)
Octopus scene in original vs. Spike Lee version? C’mon.
In the Korean original the main character semi-apologetically tries to rape the female character when he first meets her. It’s hella weird, hella awkward, but the fact that she sticks with him says something pretty strong. This version cut that scene out, and we got less of a sense that there was something very off kilter about her as a result.
The American backstory > Korean backstory. There’s loads to unpack here. The American set up had the antagonist’s father having a sexual relationship with the antagonist’s sister. This maps more directly onto the incestual relationship that the antagonist sets up with Doucette and Marie. But…. The symbolism is different. In the Korean version has a sexual relationship with her brother, and a single offhand comment from the protagonist results in her phantom pregnancy. That is loads different than the American version (father has sexual relationship with daughter and son; no pregnancy), in which the protagonist spreads lots of rumors (which seems like a more slight offence).
The original ending>the American ending. Where is the cutting out of the tongue? Puh-lease.
Having the effete antagonist be European and British? The Korean original had only class to play against, and so whatever statements it made were much more powerful. Writing off the antagonist as foppy Eurotrash was lazily American.
Elizabeth Olsen > Mary Kate Olsen + Ashley Olsen.
Elizabeth Olsen > MKO * AO