There are a lot of great movies out there, this is something that needs no debate. Did you know that some of the movies you see are remakes of movies from other countries? It’s cyclical. 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. They have to stick with what works, westernize it, and resell the repackaged goods. This process will never stop so I might as well embrace it, so here is a list of the Top 10 Asian Remakes:
Eight Below is a satisfying film on every level: the story is excellent, the script is good, the direction by Frank Marshall is tight and fast paced for a two hour film, the scenery is spectacular and the cast is committed and well chosen. But the real stars of this film are the eight wondrous dogs who for much of the film carry the entire story of being on their own in the Antarctica winter for five plus months – and for the most part surviving through bonding and obvious devotion to each other. This film may seem slight from the photo on the DVD, but it is one of those family oriented films that breaks barriers and delivers on a grand scale some very important emotional content.
The enjoyment of the film is in fact heightened by its leisurely pace, the cast has time to develop the story and let us get to know Kate and Alex as they get to know each other; thus we also experience their frustration that thyey may have to accept the fact that they will be resigned to living separate lives. I cannot think of a living actor that has had a more diverse filmography than Keanu Reeves, and “The Lake House” is by far his finest performance, in its depth, and naturalness. This is a man who looks so comfortable in his skin, in being who he is, that he adds a dimension of reality to the character of Alex. Sandra Bullock is also excellent as Kate, and both actors exude super star wattage power, and have marvelous screen chemistry with each other.
The Grudge isn’t really a very good horror movie, I’ll admit. Which is most likely why I haven’t reviewed it yet. However you can’t deny that this film broke barrier for the Asian film crossover craze that started years ago in the states. As the opening of the film explains, “When someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage a curse is born. The curse gathers in that place of death. Those who encounter it will be consumed by its fury.” When you listen to the DVD extras you learn that there is another key ingredient: the source of that rage is that the victim does not know why they were murdered. This is important because this is not your typical American horror movie where the guilty die grizzly deaths. The innocent are the only items on the menu this time around. If you want other clear indications that this is a Japanese horror movie then notice that Shimizu goes for the creeps over suspense…
Mirrors sports solid acting, Paula Patton is breathtaking in a low-cut, soaking wet shirt and some of the gore sequences were genuinely chilling. This is an extremely gory movie. About every 20 minutes a person is killed or disfigured, and there is a ton of blood whenever that happens. The single worst one is the first bathtub scene. Frankly, that was probably a bit too far over the top. There’s a fair amount of strong language. And there’s two scenes of full nudity, so of course this ranks up there as a top remake!
Clint Eastwood plays “the man with no name” other than the name given to him by one of the characters in the film, Joe. In what is now a classic style, he rides into town on a mule and witnesses the brutality of the town bullies. Without saying a word to them, they harass him and he calmly goes into one of the town bars, has some food and listens to what the bar owner has to tell him about the town’s situation. In Toshiro Mifune’s role, Clint Eastwood gave a performance that established him as one of the greatest american star of the next forty years. I think people are missing the point of this film when they focus on the action sequence. The underlying theme of the entire movie is one of self sacrifice for what is right and just.
This movie is about a hit man with an extremely high achievement rating. He owes his success to his personal set of rules, which don’t allow for friends, relationships, loose ends or sticking around in the business for too long. The film is a very competent action film, but also has its fair share of drama and emotion. It’s not for the squeamish, and Cage’s Joe isn’t always a charmer, but you find yourself rooting for him, and by extension, rooting for this film.
The ever reliable Jennifer Connelly gives another very convincing performance in this atmospheric film. One of the few horror movie remakes I actually like. The audience can see things going on that the major characters don’t see and so you’re left wondering what is going to happen next. The film is dark and creepy but far more psychologically creepy than scary for most of the film. Of course, just when you think things may turn out okay there are several twists that pull the rug out from under the viewer. Of all the recent remakes of Japanese horror films, I have to say that Dark Water is the only remake that actually surpasses the original.
The Grudge paved the way, but The Ring made this whole crazy mainstream and solidified a whole string of crappy remake films over the last few years. You can thank The Ring for that, and it ranks so high for breaking ground. The beginning of the film pulls no punches. Katie and her friend Rebecca are discussing the effects of electromagnetic waves on the human brain when an offhand comment about a videotape that kills comes to the fore. Any analysis of the plot would reveal too many spoilers so I will only stsate that if you are a fan of cerebral horror and dont mind the fact that the story will not be spoon fed to you in the style of a slasher film, then do yourself a favor, turn off the lights, and watch The Ring.
Yul Brynner, back in the late 1950’s, wanted to direct an American version of the Seven Samurai, as an western. So he bought up the movie rights. There is something very magical about this film. This is different from every other Western that came before it. I believe it is the nature of the seven gunfighters, their motives for that one chance at gallantry and redemption. That combined with the way the story is visually told makes for its greatness. It teaches us something about nobility, dignity and devotion. Kurosawa would be proud.
Martin Scorsese has another major hit on his hands with the release of the intelligent, chilling, violent, puzzling, and completely fascinating The Departed. Scorcese is on fire here, making quick cuts left and right, entering scenes through a circle point of view, cutting back and forth between scenes and characters, past and present, and using an extremely terrific soundtrack to boost the film along like a freight train to hell. This kicks people like Tarantino back into Kindergarden. I couldn’t think of any other film more fitting for the #1 spot.
There you have it! Hope you enjoyed my list and feel free to leave comments on your own list or just share thoughts or opinions.