re⋅cy⋅cle     [ree-sahy-kuhl]

1.    to treat or process (used or waste materials) so as to make suitable for reuse: recycling paper to save trees.
2.    to alter or adapt for new use without changing the essential form or nature of: The old factory is being recycled as a theater.
3.    to use again in the original form or with minimal alteration: The governor recycled some speeches from his early days.


I’m big into recycling. Have been for quite a few years. Like to do my bit for nature and all.

I collect my old newspapers, neatly fold all cardboard and go over plastics with a magnifying glass in order to find that elusive three-chasing-arrows recycle triangle to look at the number inside it (must be 1 or 2 in my borough) before I put it in the green bin.

Hollywood’s big into recycling too. And they started long before it even hit the mainstream.

But their reasons are financial rather than environmental. Although they are certainly green – with envy – at all the great movie ideas the rest of the world comes up with. So they either steal (sorry, recycle) them right off, down to the last bit of dialogue, or, perhaps even worse, rework an original film and make it all ‘American’, usually by swapping football for baseball or something similar. That’s actually been done come to think of it – Brit flick Fever Pitch (1997) turned into The Perfect Catch (2005). Sacrilegious!

You can imagine that I was kicking my recycling bin in anger when I read that DreamWorks and Universal have secured the rights to remake Oldboy, director Park Chan-wook’s Korean revenge thriller from 2003.

Oldboy - the original

And if rumours are to be trusted, you can insert Will Smith’s face onto Choi Min-sik’s in the picture above. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Will Smith. But he is just sooo baseball.

It’s not right to take this movie out of its cultural context, nor its movie context. Chan-wook made Oldboy as part of a trilogy about revenge. The other two movies being the absolutely friggin’ excellent Sympathy for Mr Vengeance (2002) and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005).

If a movie’s been done really well the first time around, why bother trying to do it again?

Here’s a bunch of random examples:

1. Vanilla Sky vs the original Spanish film Abre los ojos

2. 3 Men and a Baby vs the original French film 3 hommes et un couffin

(btw, I hear there’s a new US sequel coming up…oh dear)

3. Insomnia vs the original Norwegian film Insomnia

4. The Wicker Man vs the original British film The Wicker Man

5.  The Ring vs the original Japanese film Ringu

6. Get Carter vs the original British film Get Carter

7. Solaris vs the original Soviet film Solyaris

8. The Birdcage vs the original French film La Cage aux Folles

9. The Departed vs the original Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs

10. Breathless vs the original French film À bout de souffle

If you look at this list and realise that you haven’t seen (m)any of the films on the right hand side, then I guess the real question is, why do we allow Hollywood to dominate our screens? Why don’t we as cinema customers demand that film distribution is done more fairly so that smaller films from all corners of the world get their moment in the spotlight?

There, I really needed to get that off my chest. Now back to the recycling…