Oldboy’s TV Remake Shouldn’t Look to the Movies — It Should Look to the Manga

Let’s go straight to the source.

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There aren’t many action movies like Oldboy, though many have tried. Park Chan-wook’s action thriller, the second movie in his Vengeance trilogy, told a twisting, dark tale of conspiracy and revenge, but it was like lightning in a bottle. When iconic director Spike Lee attempted an English-language remake in 2013, the result paled in comparison.

Now, Lionsgate Television is teaming up with Park to create an English-language TV adaptation of Oldboy. But if the series is going to succeed, it needs to reflect what made the original film so great in the first place: the excellent source material.

Oldboy’s psychological action thriller story is moving to English-language television in the future.

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Oldboy is a gripping story, but it’s not a completely original one. The original film is actually an adaptation of the Japanese manga of the same name, which tells a similar story, but in a Japanese setting. Interestingly, the American remake didn’t refer to the manga at all, instead just describing the story as an adaptation of the Korean movie.

This upcoming TV series is also being described as an adaptation of Park’s movie, but there’s still an opportunity to borrow some elements from the original manga. A TV series will inherently have a longer runtime than the original movie, so it will probably be necessary to mine the manga for more supplementary material.

The original manga that Park Chan-wook adapted with Oldboy.


It wouldn’t be the first time an adaptation went straight to the source instead of the more famous film treatment. The Black Phone’s Scott Derrickson is adapting the 1953 novel Night of the Hunter into a film. The 1955 movie of the same name is far more well-known, but the new project is an adaptation of the book.

The Oldboy series should do the same thing. Of course, it will want to emulate the same masterfully choreographed action, but instead of creating new original obstacles and storylines, the answer could lie in the original source. Surely, Park Chan-wook had to leave some elements on the cutting room floor, and this could be the perfect opportunity to incorporate them back in.

Oldboy (2003) is now streaming on Netflix.

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