Recently we have come across many comments that are always negative against Hollywood remakes and how much they WILL suck! The reasonable thing to think of people that do this, is that they are very well knowledgeable of what a remake is, why is done, and how; and, well, that they have seen so many remakes before -and not just from Hollywood but from other countries- that gives them the power to criticize before there is actually a movie.
That would be the reasonable thing to think. However, it has been my experience that most of these commentators have a relative opinion on the matter, and if that is the case then they are either time travelers, or HATERS. Im not saying others should like remakes, but that there are certain things that bring us to an opinion, and when we give it out and generalize about a whole country’s lack of sense, we have to be mindful of how biased that opinion is.
I would like to address several issues as to why a remake is not always a bad thing, and what is the real matter behind the bashing (most of them really)… this said, I don’t mean to say I have the right to talk about this because I am knowledgeable, nothing like that, no. I’m not more knowledgeable than the person bashing, but at least I keep my mind open to new possibilities, to always appreciate the art of film making, and to give credit where credit is deserved… yeah, even on a remake.
If someone has not seen the movie, why think it will be bad just because it’s a remake? In all honesty, they think like that because the movie being remade is a movie they like. However, that is not what bothers me, since they are entitled to that opinion and to express it. What I find more insulting is when they say the remake will be bad because Hollywood knows nothing of the culture of that particular country. O:
To Hollywood’s defense I happen to have seen more than a few American movies –not even remakes- which pay respect to another culture, and do it well.
The Last Samurai
Seven Years in Tibet
The Painted Veil
Letters from Iwo Jima
Bunraku (The Drifter)
Lost In Translation
And the list goes on, but of course, if you happen to be one of the “Hollywood haters” and don’t ever watch Hollywood films because “they SUCK”, then you wouldn’t know about these films, and what they represent.
Even more, recently there has been lots of Hollywood films that have either been remade in Asian countries, or that have been screened to show the cultural values of Americans. Here are two articles that explain in more details:
I also found this article which features 10 Top Asian Remakes (I don’t agree with all) and gives reasons why remakes are made. Here is an expert from it and the link:
Artists discover another culture and become obsessed with translating or remaking their art so it can be enjoyed by the home audience. First it was Japan, now Korea, and even Akira Kurosawa borrowed from Shakespeare. The French and Italian film industries both had long periods where they remade Shakespeare and were obsessed with earlier American cinema. I also believe that it’s partially a business decision. Hollywood remakes are more focused on blockbuster hits or cult classics in their respective country of origin…
10 Top Asians Remakes
Aside from that, I think there are several points which you have to considered in order to say the remake will be bad. The most important one being that the movie in question is strictly based on cultural background and history of that particular country, a story so profoundly rooted to that country’s culture that no other culture can incorporate it to their own cultural background. For example: Robin Hood/El Zorro/Iljimae.
These three folklore tales are very similar, and have one thing in common: a justice hero, who defends the poor and innocent from the rich and corrupted. While Robin Hood and Iljimae are more similar than El Zorro, Iljimae also has a double identity, wears a mask and leaves a flower as his trade mark, this is very similar to El Zorro who has a double identity, wears a mask, and leaves a mark-like “Z” behind. Who got their “hood marked” first, I have no idea, but each is a very basic example of how you can take a story from another culture, and incorporate it to your own… a recycle of stories, that is what I call it.
What are stories that could never be merged into another culture and get away with it? Well, I can think of a very common one right of the top of my head: Aladdin. You can’t incorporate it to your culture, because there is a magical lamp with a Genie, and a flying rug… err, I don’t know much about other countries folklore, but Genies and flying rugs are very particular of the Arab folklore. Even more, Aladdin is tale that comes from a book: One Thousand and One Nights, which is a collection of many folk tales of West and South Asia. All movies, and cartoons are remakes.
To incorporate Aladdin to, say, Japanese culture (just to name one) it would be undergoing many changes. For once, instead of a flying rug, we will have a dragon, and instead of a genie, we would have a demon spirit. Muawhahahaha…. But then, it wouldn’t be a remake of Aladdin anymore would it?
To say that a certain movie cannot be remade, is to imply the story is unique to that country’s culture. Any other story can be remade, rewritten, changed, altered, and nothing happens because its just a story and not a fact, a poignant historical figure, nor a folklore tale with highly significant mythological creatures and the likes… nope, hit mans can be from any country, and little poor girls with a smart mouth are in every corner of this world.
The other reason that bothers me, is that most of these people that bash remakes and pretend to know more about the country’s cultural setting than any other person –haven’t even seen half of the films of the country of which they are speaking; the ones that are highly rated that is.
If you are a film fanatic, then you will watch any film with any actor. You won’t care who is the actor, or whether he is handsome or not, because truthfully you are in for the story and the art behind the making. I have only seen complains of remakes of certain movies, with certain actors that are popular among the drama watchers. Whatever happened to the remakes of those films that made Korea film industry stand out in the recent years? You haven’t seen those films? Why? Because the actor is not what’s his name, handsome-face-from-that-popular romcom.
That this particular actor cannot be replaced is your opinion, not a fact. Therefore, it does not hold true to the possibility of the remake not being a good one.
Instead of judging based on your own biased opinion, I invite you to take into consideration some of the real reasons why a remake should or shouldn’t be made. There are three points I follow to make my judgement.
1. Why? – Is the story something that will appeal to the western viewer? There are certain stories that even when they don’t have a strong hold to the culture of the country, they are still not the kind of stories that American audiences are used to. Yes! There will always be a group of people that are pulled to Asian culture, thus understand the concept of the stories no matter how odd they might be. But, that is only a small group when looking at a large scale.
For example, stories like Uzukami, and Death Note, are still basic stories that can be incorporated to another setting, but are too typical of Asian horror if you know what I mean, Uzukami in particular is a very odd story that holds a hidden message, not the kind of concept we are used to in America. Still, it could be done depending on two other things that I will address next.
2. Who? – Who is making this movie? To follow with the examples above mentioned, The Ring, was a successful remake of a Japanese horror movie. I think the main reason why Hollywood was able to pull it off this time was because of the director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of The Caribbean… enough said) Also the story is not as odd as Uzukami.
3. How? –Is the director keeping true to the original concept? This is perhaps the most important one, as fans often complain why they changed this sub plot, or why they killed this character, or why was his hair blue instead of yellow… I am a fan of keeping true to the original. I can tolerate a few changes only if there is a good reason for them.
To come to and end with this rant (I know you might be relieved to read that lol) Let me point out some movies that are in the process (or being thought) of becoming a remake, and what I think of that idea.
– Death Note (Japanese) – Like I said, this movie might not be a good idea for a remake, but I still keep an open mind. The Brave One, is an American film that was a bit overlooked if you know what I mean, and it has the same premise although the story is a lot different. However, Dexter, which is more like Death Note but also has its own different points, is a hit on TV. Having said this, Death Note might not be a good remake because the story is a bit overdone here, and although it has a lot more originality than the other two mentioned, its not so different. However, if it ever becomes official, I will be looking at the WHO, and HOW!
– The Chaser (Korean) – I have been waiting for this one since I read about it. This is my favorite Asian film; this movie has become one of the biggest hits in Korea in the recent years… oh yeah! It doesn’t have Won Bin, Bi Rain, So Jisub, nor Jang Hyuk. All good actors, some better than others, but nope, they are not the main leads, so I guess you haven’t seen it. The same team who made The Departed (Internal Affairs Hollywood remake) has bought rights for this movie. Although, The Departed was not better than the original Chinese film, it was one of the best movies of that year. That said, I have high hopes for the remake of The Chaser… I even read DiCaprio was being cast, but there is nothing official yet.
– A Man From Nowhere (Korean) – A Man From Nowhere is very similar in story to Leon The Professional (not saying is a remake, but its very, very similar) its an action film about a mysterious man and a little girl, it has nothing to do with Korean history or its culture. Its the kind of story that can be easily incorporated into any other culture and no boundaries are being crossed. I don’t know who will be making this movie, and how, not even if its official, but I will be keeping an eye on this one as well. The Korean version is pretty good.
I hope you enjoyed reading this rant, agree or not. I don’t write for everyone to understand me, I do it for the sense of existence. 😉
Here is a big list of remakes we like, and not all from Asian films:
The Ring – remake of Ringu (Japanese film 1998)
The Grudge (first one) – remake of Ju-on (Japanese film 2002)
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 – remake of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974)
The Departed – remake of Internal Affairs (Hong Kong film 2002)
A Fistful of Dollars – remake of Yojimbo (Japanese film 1961)
The Batman series – remake of The Batman series of the 80s and 90s
Scarface – remake of Scarface (1932)
3:10 To Yuma – remake 3:10 To Yuma (1957)
The Magnificent Seven – remake of The Seven Samurai (Japanese film 1954)
You’ve Got Mail – remake of The Shop Around The Corner (1940)
Dark Water – remake of Dark Water (Japanese film 2002)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – remake of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Swedish version)
The Thomas Crown Affair – remake of The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
True Lies – remake La Totale (French film 1991)
The Italian Job – remake of The Italian Job (British film 1969)
Other thoughts on this:
I think when it comes to remakes everyone has a certain way they view them. Me? I’m not a fan of most remakes – but it’s mostly because the ones I have seen have strayed far from the original which have lead to disappointing me. Does this mean all remakes are bad? No. What it means is when you have seen the original of something and you’ve loved it – you tend to set high standards for a remake. Whether it’s a remake within the same country or a remake of a movie from another. It’s true, the original versions are almost always going to be the best. I kind of think along the lines of all remakes have the same sort of structure. If someone remade an older song and “spiced” it up a bit – is it always better? Not always, sometimes some of those songs become really butchered. But then there are also a lot of songs that I prefer the newer version, the sound is better to me as well. Isn’t this the same for movies? There may be an older movie that gets remade and has a lot better effects and the like. One thing I’m not fond of are books being made into movies – but that’s mostly because I have an eye for detail and when they omit things I loved or found important in the book it makes me sad. Or when they overlook tiny details it drives me insane. Such as hair color, if someone is supposed to have black hair I expect them to have black hair and not red hair. I’m the type that will try to overlook these things, but overall if I’m not impressed with the quality of it all…it just adds up and I wind up not liking it. When it comes to books being made into movies I try to remind myself that there’s no way they could add 400 pages worth of information into a 2 hour movie. But if there’s one thing that it does do – it opens the audience up to the knowledge about the book, or about this movie. Especially foreign films that don’t get broadcasted. -crazy4you
I have stated before that I don’t like a lot of American remakes, not because they are American, but because they weren’t done well. I could say the same about a lot of Asian remakes too. Like Playful Kiss Blech! But I do like some of the American Remakes. The Ring was good, and I liked Pulse as well. I am interested in seeing the Hollywood version of Man from Nowhere as well as the original. Man From Nowhere sounds like a movie that is easily transferable to just about any countrie’s style of film-making. It’s more odd stories like say DBZ or Hana Yori Dango that would be difficult for Hollywood to properly capture. Or the oddball horror stories like Tokyo Gore Police, Uzumaki, and such. Those stories are very unique to Japan and aren’t easy to remake.
I think that the fact that something is a remake shouldn’t be why something is disliked. Remakes can be awesome. The problem is whether or not the screenwriters and directors are staying true to the original while managing to have something new and fresh to it. They need to spice up the story rather than recycle the same old stuff, but don’t completely change it either. And it shouldn’t matter what country is remaking it either. If the directing, acting, and storyline are well done, who the hell cares which country did it? -SleepNinja