You would think the colossal flop of Spike Lee‘s “Oldboy” — earning a microscopic $4 million (to date) worldwide —would be a major warning sign to Hollywood. The challenge was not just in taking the celebrated, niche, deeply twisted, very hard-R source material and making it work within the Hollywood rulebook, it was making a mainstream audience care enough to buy tickets. Yet, despite a very lengthy marketing campaign, no one could be bothered to show up. Even worse, critics savaged it. Was there a lesson learned? Nope, not really, as yet another fantastically grim South Korean movie is going to be put through remake grinder.
Kim Jee-Woon‘s darkly funny, wickedly vicious “I Saw The Devil” is now being groomed for an English-language redo. The film tells the story of a special agent who seeks revenge after his pregnant fiancé is murdered at the hands at a particularly monstrous and slippery serial killer (played by Choi Min-sik of “Oldboy” fame). When the laws of justice can’t keep the killer behind the bars, the agent takes matters into his own hands as the pair engage in an escalating game of cat and mouse. In short: it’s ugly, gratuitous, sad, brutal, complex and terrific. Much like “Oldboy,” we have no idea how a redo would work.
That feeling isn’t helped by the knowledge that 1984 Private Defense Contractors, the guys behind “Dredd,” “Machine Gun Preacher” and “Broken City” (and to their credit, “Killing Them Softly” as well) are going to be working on this. But it seems they are already trying to start the narrative that this isn’t a do-ver. “The intention is not to remake the film per se, but rather to ‘port’ it for international audiences,” honcho Adi Shankar said. Okay, then.
No writers or director announced yet, so until we know more, here’s the red band trailer and if you haven’t seen this movie, track it down.