Korean auteur Park Chan-wook has a new movie out this weekend (The Handmaiden, a lesbian erotic thriller about fraud and fucking) but the director first found world acclaim with his ultraviolent vengeance thriller, Oldboy (2003), a film about a man who was mysteriously imprisoned for 15 years and then inexplicably released, setting off a blazing trail of dead bodies on his revenge mission. 10 years later, Park's movie got an American remake, helmed by Spike Lee, with a cast that includes Josh Brolin, Samuel L. Jackson, and Elizabeth Olsen. Before the 2013 remake, Park had given Lee his blessing, saying, "I look forward to seeing the film. Just go out there and make your own film, don't try and duplicate what we did."
It's been three years since Spike Lee's Oldboy was released, and Park Chan-wook still hasn't seen it. While speaking to Park about his new film, I asked Park what he thought of Lee's version. "I haven't seen it yet," he admitted to me. "I haven't had the time. I will have to see it soon." Dang, that busy huh? Lee's remake received mixed reactions from critics and fans of the original, and perhaps Park was nervous to see it. Or the man really has not found the time to sit through a 105-minute movie in three whole years.
The same year Spike Lee's Oldboy was released, Park released his first English language film, Stoker, starring Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode, and Mia Wasikowska. Stoker also received mixed reception, but Park said he is interested in doing another English language movie again. When asked which actors he has his eyes on, Ryan Gosling and Mark Ruffalo were a couple names thrown out (he said there are many actors he wants to work with whose names wouldn't come to him immediately). During our conversation, Park also talked of early directorial influences when he was an aspiring filmmaker, name-dropping Alfred Hitchcock, Ingmar Bergman, Akira Kurosawa, and various Italian greats.