Some days, we don’t see eye-to-eye, China. That whole Tiananmen Square Massacre? That was really bad. Funding the ongoing genocide in Darfur? Highly insensitive. Allowing the unfettered piracy of finely wrought Hollywood entertainments like Georgia Rule and Code Name: The Cleaner? You people are monsters.
But perhaps you are learning to be good again (you were good once, right?). Though you’ve yet to cop to the slaughter of your civilians during the summer Batman was released, and seem to be unmoved by George Clooney’s demands that you end your backing of the Sudanese government, I think you’ve just stumbled onto a solution for your piracy problem. And I know I like it.
Larry Cohen is a screenwriting god. I realize this is a strange thing to say about a guy who just shared a scripting credit with that great, great Polish actor Joseph Tura, but when you write non-stop like Cohen, you’re going to get a Captivity or a Wicked Stepmother here and there. On the whole, though, the guy churns out bizarro genius. Did you know that Maniac Cop is the most highly regarded trilogy in film history next to Satyajit Ray’s Apu cycle? Have you heard that a chance viewing of Full Moon High at Barry Gordy’s house briefly restored Stevie Wonder’s sight? Could a society so obsessed with population control be more primed to embrace the It’s Alive movies?
You’ve a golden opportunity on your hands with this joint Warner Brothers/Emperor Motion Pictures production of Connected. It’s a remake of the David Ellis thriller Cellular (his Snakes on a Plane did bang-up business on your black market a couple of years ago), and it’s based on an original idea by Larry Cohen (later muddled by Chris Morgan). In any event, I think your movie-crazed populace of one billion-plus will thrill to the simple gimmickry of a young man who cannot hang up a cell phone lest an innocent woman and her kid get executed (even if it is directed by fucking Benny Chan). I believe in my heart of hearts they will jump to their feet, tears streaming down their reddened cheeks, and exclaim, “You know what we’d really like to see next: a guy stuck in a public phone booth for eighty minutes!” And then you will commission Mr. Chan, via an Emperor/Fox co-production, to rip off Phone Booth (preferably as a star vehicle for Sammo Hung, if only because big guys + cramped spaces = Chaplin on his best day).
People will come, China.
All the while, a reasonable percentage of these admissions will get funneled back into the dream factory, prompting studio executives to put one of the 1970’s greatest exploitation filmmakers back to work on a regular basis. They won’t understand why your largely untapped goldmine of an economy is going bananas over Lam Suet as Mike Hammer in I, the Jury, but it’s not in their DNA to ask “Why”. These are the same soulless cretins who made Pauly Shore a star; they’ll hungrily consume a slab of Lam.
I see Cohen’s puzzling filmography as the path to peace between our nations, China. “And a Maniac Cop shall lead them.” Do what is right, and embrace the tao of Cohen. And then knock it off with the Darfur business. I mean, really.