Oldboy, from The Sympathizer creator Park Chan-wook, becoming a TV show

Oldboy, the classic 2003 action movie from Park Chan-wook, is getting remade as a TV show. Hide your hammers.
The Sympathizer
The Sympathizer /

This past Sunday, HBO aired the premiere episode of a new miniseries called The Sympathizer, based on the best-selling novel by Viet Thanh Nhuyen. It's about an unnamed Communist spy from the north of Vietnam, played by Hoa Xuande, who serves as a spy in the south in the waning days of the Vietnam War before continuing his duties in the United States. Robert Downey Jr. is on hand in multiple roles. The first episode was really exciting and interesting, which is a credit to director and showrunner Park Chan-wook.

Park Chan-wook has been in the game for a while; he really broke out with 2003's Oldboy, an action movie based on a manga about a man who is sealed in a hotel room for 15 years only to be let out one day without explanation and told that he has five days to figure out what's going on. The movie is a modern classic, in part because of the scene where the main character beats up, like, 30 guys in a hallway with a hammer, which goes down in one shot. You know those unbroken action scenes in the Daredevil Netflix show everyone loved so much? They owe a lot to this scene:

In fact, movies and TV shows have never stopped paying homage to Oldboy. Recent action movies like Monkey Man and Boy Kills World are in its debut. And Oldboy's success helped pave the way for other hugely popular South Korean imports, from Squid Game on Netflix to the works of Bong Joon-ho, the guy behind Parasite and Snowpiercer.

I lay all this out to impress upon you how important a movie Oldboy is so you'll be exicted when I say that, according to Variety, Lionsgate is working on an Oldboy TV show. It's unclear if Park will direct, but he is excited. “Lionsgate Television shares my creative vision for bringing Oldboy into the world of television,” he said. “I look forward to working with a studio whose brand stands for bold, original and risk-taking storytelling.”

Oldboy was remake as an English-language movie in 2013, with Josh Brolin in the lead role and Spike Lee directing. But after the studio cut the movie down from 140 minutes to 105, Lee was so dispirited he removed his “A Spike Lee joint” catchphrase from the final version, which was a critical and commercial flop. Hopefully the TV show will be more successful.

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