Hollywood may love remaking Asian movies (particularly ones with long-haired ghosts and/or samurais) but sometimes the switch gets flipped and Asian cinemas get a turn in remaking some of Hollywood’s biggest hits.
A recent example will be Zhang Hao’s newly-released “Only You” starring Tang Wei and Liao Fan, a remake of the same name 1994 romantic comedy starring Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr, directed by Norman Jewison.
Since Asia loves romcoms (Chen Daming’s 2011 “What Women Want” with Andy Lau and Gong Li, which is a remake of the same name 2000 Mel Gibson-Helen Hunt vehicle by Nancy Meyers, was very well received by moviegoers), next year we will see yet another romcom remake where Shu Qi and Feng Shaofeng will be starring in Alexi Tan’s 2016 remake of 1997 Julia Roberts and Dermot Mulroney-starrer “My Best Friend’s Wedding”.
Of course, it’s not just the Chinese market that’s remaking Hollywood movies since Asian cinemas do encompass the likes of South Korea, Japan and India too, to name a few, but it is the most prominent.
With India, while one would notice there are many English movies that have been adapted to Bollywood versions, most of these are unfortunately blatant rip-offs (See: “Kucch To Hai” (2003), remake of 1997’s “I Know What You Did Last Summer”; “Dil Hai Ki Manta Nahin” (1991), remake of 1934’s “It happened one Night”). However, the trend of shamelessly remaking Hollywood movies without giving proper credits seems to be phasing off now that people are more aware and educated about the act of plagiarism (also, maybe because Hollywood loves suing people more than ever).
It wasn’t a particularly small pool to wade in but we managed to narrow down our list to just a few remakes that shine a little brighter than the rest of their comrades.
Take a look below at our top 5 picks of notable Asian remakes of Hollywood movies:
This 2008 remake of David R. Ellis’ 2004 action crime thriller “Cellular” bills itself as the first official Chinese remake of an American movie, which started the Hollywood-to-Asian remake wave. “Connected” stars Louis Koo, Barbie Hsu, Nick Cheung and Liu Ye in place of Jason Statham, Kim Basinger, Chris Evans, and William H. Macy. The remake received fairly positive ratings as most movie-lovers see it on par with the original. Louis Koo stars in “Connected” as a single father who one day receives a phone call from a stranger who claims she and her daughter have been kidnapped by brutal gangsters and begs him to save them.
In 2013, Japan-based Korean director Lee Sang-il released his Japanese version of “Unforgiven”, featuring Ken Watanabe in the lead role. The movie is a remake of Clint Eastwood’s Academy Award-winning 1992 western movie of the same name, starring Eastwood himself, who viewed the remade version positively. The movie, which currently holds a hundred percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, has received mostly positive reviews from critics and moviegoers alike, mostly due to its arresting visuals – Lee revealed he shot the movie on film without the aid of computer graphics to enhance the shots. “Unforgiven” is a tale of an ageing warrior that is lured back into action to avenge a vicious attack on a prostitute.
Jerry Zucker’s 1990 romantic tearjerker “Ghost” gets a same name Japanese-language remake with Korean actor Song Seung-heon and Japanese actress Nanako Matsushima taking over Patrick Swayze’s and Demi Moore’s roles, respectively. The 2010 Japanese-Korean co-production directed by Taro Otani offers a little twist where instead of the husband, it is the wife who dies and turns into a ghost, contrary to the original English plot. “Ghost” tells the story of married couple Nanami, a successful CEO, and Jun-Ho, a potter. When Nanami is killed in an accident, she finds herself turned into a ghost. Jun-ho, devastated by her death, communicates with her spirit through a medium in order to solve her murder.
A 2003 anime dubbed as a loose remake of John Ford’s “3 Godfathers”, though some would argue the animated version by Satoshi Kon and Shôgo Furuya is a much more tragic and complex tale compared to the 1948 John Wayne-starrer. With beautiful Tokyo as backdrop, the animated movie’s visual aesthetics alone is reason enough to watch it, if not also for its compelling tale of contrived coincidences and thought-provoking view on today’s society. “Tokyo Godfathers” follows three homeless people: the “jerk” Gin, transsexual Hana and teenage misfit Miyuki, who are looking through the trash on one Christmas Eve when they find an abandoned baby and decide to help search for the baby’s missing parents.
Fans rest assured, this 2014 Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif-starrer is not an unauthorised copy but is an official remake of 2010 action comedy, “Knight and Day”, that starred Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. Neither Siddharth Anand’s nor James Mangold’s version was highly embraced by critics but the former’s remake has the distinction of being one of the highest-grossing Bollywood movies in the U.S. as well as being in the current top ten list of the highest-grossing movies in India. “Bang Bang” tells the story of a woman who gets caught up with a secret agent, who is on the run from the Secret Service and is trying to clear up his name.