"I learned to bite from my teachers who were biters..."

April 27, 2005

Guest post by Alex Nishikawa

Over the past few years there have been quite a few 'revisited' movies that somehow make their way into US theatres. Movies that originated elsewhere. Some are 'reinterpretations,' or '(heavily)inspired by,' while others are outright cut and pasted facsimiles of the originals (though they star actors who are a bit more "American" in deference to the American audiences). Some rather obvious examples are Amenábar's "Abre Los Ojos" (AKA "Vanilla Sky"), Shimuzu's "Ju On" (AKA "The Grudge") and Nakata's "Ringu" (AKA "The Ring").

Recently I heard rumors that "Holy"wood is planning to remake the Wai Keung Lau/Siu Fai Mak HK film "Infernal Affairs,"(Wu Jian Dao) with a star-studded cast directed by Martin Scorsese. The cast includes Leo "The Titanic Aviator" DiCaprio, Marky "Mark" Wahlberg, and Matt "One-hit Wonder" Damon, in addition to others. The original film has garnered critical acclaim for it's direction, storyline, production, and acting. I've seen the original and it is, in my opinion, worthy of much of the kudos it's been given. I wonder why a re-interpretation is necessary?

Some have said that the remake craze merely pays homage to the original directors/actors/producers. Others have said that they hope to spark interest in global cinema by doing such a thing (somewhat of a similar line of reasoning Sean Combs utilized in his blatant use of old R&B/Soul tracks in their entirety) in other words, getting people to start crate digging for movies. Still others say they hope to give access to ideas that may not be otherwise seen by the average mainstream moviegoer.

Perhaps recycling has so permeated our popular culture that it has even affected our movies and music? And this is not to say film producers outside the United States haven't and still don't bite US movies for concepts. It is, to all intents and purposes, a two-way street. What do y'all out there think about this phenomenon? I'm torn, sort of like Natalie Imbruglia.



For more about the remake craze, check out the latest issue of Hyphen. We've got a chart comparing a bunch of Japanese films to their American remakes.