The Best Korean Thriller Of All Time Getting English-Language TV Series Remake

By Douglas Helm | Published


The Korean film Oldboy is one of the most kinetic and grueling thrillers of all time, and now Park Chan-wook is teaming with Lionsgate Television to develop an English-language TV adaptation of the film. Park was the director and co-writer of the original film, which was loosely adapted from the Japanese manga of the same name. He is set to produce the series along with his producing partner Sdy Lim and Lionsgate Television execs Courtney Mock and Tara Joshi.

2003’s Oldboy


Park’s involvement in the Oldboy TV adaptation should certainly be a good signal to fans of the original film. The 2003 thriller follows a man who is abducted and kept in a cell for 15 years, drugged every time human contact is necessary, and with only a television to keep him company. After 15 years of imprisonment, he is suddenly told he has five days to find who kidnapped him.

The original Oldboy starred Choi Min-sik, Yoo Ji-tae, Kang Hye-jung, and Oh Dal-su and was met with widespread critical acclaim, earning iconic status over the years.

The 2013 Remake

This series will be the second time there has been an English-language adaptation of Park’s 2003 film, with Spike Lee making a film adaptation in 2013 that starred Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley, Samuel L. Jackson, and Michael Imperioli. That version was met with mostly negative reviews and was a box office bomb, so hopefully the TV adaptation fares better.

Park Chan-Wook Is Involved In The Series

However, the Lionsgate Oldboy TV adaptation has a distinct advantage over Lee’s 2013 film, which is the involvement of Park Chan-wook. Park was not involved with the 2013 adaptation, and it’s probably fair to say he’ll know how to bring the same level of violence and intrigue to the TV version as he did to his 2003 film. But, it remains to be seen if it ends up being a cultural touchstone like that film was.

A More Faithful Adaptation?

There aren’t many details about the Oldboy English TV adaptation at this point, but there are likely two directions it could go. Either they will adapt a version of Park’s 2003 film or they could choose to adapt a more faithful version of the manga the 2003 film was based on. For those unfamiliar with the manga, it’s much different than the film version, thus why the 2003 film is considered “loosely based on” the manga.

It would be interesting if Park Chan-wook and Lionsgate opt to make a more faithful version of the Oldboy manga for this TV adaptation, as it would be something we haven’t got to see on-screen before. This might be a good way to drum up interest from fans of the 2003 film who hold that masterpiece in high regard as something that isn’t worth rebooting. The long-form format of TV would also be more fitting for a direct adaptation of the manga, which ran for 79 chapters.

More News To Come


In any case, following up one of the best thrillers of all time will be no easy feat for the Oldboy TV adaptation. Still, it’ll be interesting to see how this show comes together and if it can live up to the legacy of the 2003 film. Stay tuned and we’ll keep you updated about this adaptation as more news is announced.

Source: Variety