Spike Lee adds Samuel L. Jackson to Oldboy remake

Depending on your personal feelings toward Spike Lee’s English-language remake of Chan-Wook Park’s cult classic revenge flick Oldboy, the following news will either be phenomenal, or will only lightly dent your cynical rejection of any auteur’s attempts to one-up Park. Either way, Samuel L. Jackson is now a part of the movie’s cast.

The LA Times reports:

Jackson has come on board for a small but critical part in the new film, according to a person close to the production who was not authorized to talk about it publicly. The actor will play the man who is being tortured by the hero (Brolin) in a key revenge scene.

Fans of the original will remember the scene as perhaps the most visceral and disturbing of the film. Protagonist Dae-su Oh exacts vengeance on a man who once guarded him by extracting his teeth one-by-one with the claw end of a hammer.

The LA Times has a good point: It’s hard to forget that scene, yet the report then goes on to state that Spike Lee’s version won’t feature the forced dental work. “The new film, which begins shooting this fall in Louisiana and New York, won’t go with the tooth removal, instead inflicting a different kind of torture (we won’t spoil it here, but it’s plenty painful).” Given the numerous ways to torture a person we have to assume that there is something out there as painful as having one’s teeth plucked out with a claw hammer, but honestly we’re having trouble imagining what that might be. Thoughts on how Mr. Jackson might meet his end in the Americanized Oldboy?

Alongside word that Samuel L. Jackson has joined the Oldboy cast, the Times also points out that the film has enlisted the talents of Bruce Hornsby to compose the film’s score. Hornsby has worked with Lee on a number of projects in the past including “basketball documentary Kobe Doin’ Work and the auteur’s new Red Hook Summer,” so his addition isn’t that surprising, though it is odd to hear Hornsby claim that his score wouldn’t necessarily be dark.

“I’m working on a few things and I’ll send them to Spike soon,” he said. “The ‘D’ word has been spoken to me by him,” the musician added, referring to a dark tone. “But I think the score will also run the gamut.”

If any of you who have seen the original, 2003, Korean version of Oldboy can imagine it with a score that is anything other than dark, you’ve got a better imagination than we do. Without spoiling the film’s plot — if you haven’t seen it, please rectify that immediately; it’s fantastic and currently available on Netflix — we can safely say that it deals with some very dark, disturbing themes and while it doesn’t wallow in its characters’ depravity, it is a very dark film. Unless Spike Lee is changing huge swaths of the movie to match his artistic vision, a score that is anything other than “dark” doesn’t make much sense.

Yes, we’ve still got our fingers crossed that Lee isn’t making massive changes to the existing Oldboy plot. Call it wishful thinking.

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