Screen Junkies » Mother http://www.screenjunkies.com Movie Reviews & TV Show Reviews Fri, 21 Nov 2014 23:06:04 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.3.1 ‘I Saw the Devil’ and Four Other Korean Movies That Hollywood Should Stay Away From http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/i-saw-the-devil-and-four-other-korean-movies-that-hollywood-should-stay-away-from/ http://www.screenjunkies.com/video/i-saw-the-devil-and-four-other-korean-movies-that-hollywood-should-stay-away-from/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 19:26:06 +0000 Jared Jones http://www.screenjunkies.com/?post_type=video&p=265074 You're doomed for the start with these endeavors, Hollywood, but if you are so insistent on Americanizing some of the near-perfect efforts that Korean cinema has to offer, just make sure you keep your filthy paws off these classics.

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By Jared Jones

Spike Lee’s spectacularly misguided remake of the South Korean revenge classic Oldboy was a disaster in every sense of the term — the film earned back just $4 million of its $35 million budget, was rightfully lambasted by critics as being “disappointingly safe and shallow,” and even found itself dead center in the middle of a poster plagiarism scandal. As Sweet Dick Willie might say, Lee’s Oldboy was “thirty cents away from having a quarter.”

And the truth is, anyone with even the most cursory understanding of Oldboy could probably figure that it wouldn’t translate well with American moviegoing audiences. We may put on our rubber underwear and try to make it through a Saw movie without vomiting into our popcorn every Halloween, sure, but for whatever reason, the morbid sense of humor and absolute lack of boundaries that Korean thrillers have become infamous for don’t seem to sit well with us here in the US of A. And that’s fine, because in the case of absolute masterpieces like Oldboy, there’s really no need to remake them at all.

So with all that information in mind, you’d think it would be a while before Hollywood opted to put their spin on a highly-touted, incredibly-disturbing Korean flick, right?

HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING, SCREENJUNKARDS. Just weeks after Oldboy bombed, it was announced that stateside audiences would be receiving a completely unnecessary remake of Kim Jee-woon’s 2011 thriller, I Saw the Devil. The reason why? Well, allow producer Adi Shankar to explain:

Kim Jee Woon’s I Saw The Devil is perfect in so many ways. The intention is not to remake the film per se but rather to ‘port’ it console-style for international audiences.

You simply have to love a statement about a proposed remake that begins by admitting that the film being remade should not be remade. And as far as Shakar’s “port” comment goes, I can only counter by stating that I Saw the Devil has been readily available on Netflix since it was released and is therefore already “port”-able. Unless by “port,” Shakar means “translated into English,” because the need to remake foreign films that came out less than five years ago is forever justified by our cultural inability to handle subtitles. U-S-A! U-S-A!!

There I go, sounding all pessimistic again. To be fair, it appears that Hollywood has actually locked down a directing/writing duo that *could* do IStD justice — Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett (You’re Next, The Guest) — so maybe the remake won’t be a complete pile of excrement. But boy oh boy does it have some big shoes to fill.

At the end of the day, that’s really the trouble when it comes to remaking a film on the level of Oldboy or, to a lesser degree, I Saw the Devil — the original product sets the bar so high that not even James Cameron could rescue it. You’re doomed for the start with these endeavors, Hollywood, but if you are so insistent on Americanizing some of the near-perfect efforts that Korean cinema has to offer, just make sure you keep your filthy paws off these classics.

The Good, The Bad, and The Weird 

Given the film’s obvious nods to the spaghetti westerns of Sergio Leone and the Indiana Jones series, it would be hard to picture a remake of Kim Jee-woon’s The Good, The Bad, and The Weird coming off as anything but an inflated Clint Eastwood flick here in America. Still, if Woon’s I Saw the Devil turns out to be successful, it’s only a matter of time before his other efforts are at least considered for the same treatment. Everything about The Good, The Bad, and The Weird screams “summer blockbuster,” but it is the film’s inherent silliness that American directors would have the hardest time capturing, if you ask us.

The Host

Currently the second-highest grossing film in South Korean history, Bong Joon-ho’s The Host is prime for an American remake. A satirical send-up of B-level monster movies that is as brilliantly directed as it is acted, The Host combines the sardonic wit of Jaws with the eco-friendly message of Godzilla while paying tribute to everything in between. It’s the kind of popcorn flick that manages to be equally entertaining and thought-provoking, which is saying a lot about a movie centered around a “retard frog squirrel” as Herbert Garrison might put it.

But still, just watch how the scene above wherein said retard frog squirrel is revealed and ask yourself which American director could so brilliantly, effortlessly walk the line between slapstick silliness and sheer terror. That tracking shot alone is reason enough not to remake this movie.

Mother

Speaking of Bong Joon-ho, his 2009 follow-up to The Host is just as likely to receive the Americanized treatment as anything he’s ever done. Telling the story of an unnamed widow (Kim Hye-ja) who embarks on a quest to prove the innocence of her mentally undeveloped son after he is convicted of murder, Mother contains the kind of heartbreaking narrative that could easily make it an Oscar-contender here in the States. Much like Oldboy, Mother plays with the idea that knowledge can actually be the cause behind one’s suffering in their tireless pursuit of it, and is anchored by an incredible performance from Hye-ja. In fact, the film’s concluding moments are very much inspired by that of Oldboy, even if Joon-ho opts for what is pretty much the complete opposite resolution.

The Chaser 

One of the greatest cat-and-mouse thrillers ever made, The Chaser was released in 2008 to almost unanimous acclaim from critics and has already been green-lit for a remake. Warner Bros. purchased the remake rights to The Chaser for $1 million just months after the film hit theaters in South Korea, and everyone from Leonardo Dicaprio to screenwriter William Monahan (both of whom worked on The Departed, which was itself a remake of the Hong Kong gang thriller Infernal Affairs) have been briefly attached to the project. Thankfully, though, the remake seems to have hit a snag in development somewhere along the line.

While the prospect of seeing Leonardo Dicaprio star in something as truly violent and depraved as The Chaser is undoubtedly awesome, you’d be hard pressed to find a reason why this film should be remade. That its setting (the streets of Seoul) and restrained, realistic chase/fight scenes play an intricate part in the plot would render a remake all the more pointless for a moviegoing audience that repeatedly shells out their own money for a 150-minute Michael Bay ‘splosionfest. What? YOU DUG YOUR OWN GRAVES WITH THIS ONE, AMERICA.

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