Tough Business: Studio Does the Wrong Thing…

When we read the article from last Sunday’s New York Times on Spike Lee’s new movie, “Oldboy,” we all were irate.

The movie is a “reinterpretation” of Park Chanwook’s 2003 cult classic of the same title.
In the original, there is an intense fight scene that was shot in one uninterrupted long shot (see clip below). Spike Lee’s version started the fight scene in the hallway, like the original, and then tripled the length by having it also include three parking lot ramps.

The article mentions that staying true to the one continuous take idea, the lead actor Josh Brolin trained for six weeks to memorize the choreography.

To get a sense of how intense the scene was, after seven complete takes, Mr. Brolin has said, he broke down in tears.

The director’s cut of the film, which runs 3-hours, includes that scene in its entirety.
However the studio, doing what studios do, trimmed the film to make it’s final version’s run time 102-minutes. Part of that process involved cuts to that intricately staged fight scene.

Mr. Lee’s remarks in the Times piece say a lot:

“There’s no reason to try and even attempt that shot unless it’s a one-take,” he said, scowling through his tortoiseshell glasses. “That’s the scene from the original! That’s the scene!”

Reading this got our buddy Frankie fired up for sure.

When asked to to explain why the scene was edited, the article mentioned that Mr. Lee shrugged and said, “Tough business. That’s all I’m going to say. Tough business.”


First of all, we can’t wait until Spike Lee’s Director’s Cut is available for viewing. We won’t bother with seeing the studio cut. Hopefully it won’t pull the money they thought they were going to get and the studio will re-release it as it was meant to be seen.

Meanwhile, Frankie “Hat in Hand” Capra is curious how Mr. Lee lost control of his film.

More on that another day.


Trailer for the 2003 Movie:

Trailer for Spike Lee’s 2013 Movie:

Click here to read the Times piece, “Spike Lee, Still Gliding to Success.”

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