Of the two needless men-on-a-mission remakes I read last year, John Fusco’s Seven Samurai was far less objectionable than Scott Rosenberg’s Dirty Dozen; all told, it was probably the guy’s best work since the not-half-bad Young Guns II. What I didn’t like, however, was the audacious use of Akira Kurosawa’s title to sell the umpteenth redo of his classic text.
But Harvey Weinstein isn’t going to let those title rights go to waste, so even though it’s been nearly eight years in the developin’, there will be another Seven Samurai. And, as I wrote last year, it’ll be modernized and dumbed down in the best 1980s tradition (thus rendering the title completely inaccurate, but who’s gonna gripe aside from beard-stroking film critics?). As for when, The Weinstein Company is, according to Variety, targeting fourth quarter ’08 for the start of principal photography, with a probable ’09 worldwide release. Oh, goody.
Before Samurai, there will be Shanghai, Mikael Hafstrom’s World War II drama starring John Cusack, Ken Watanabe and Gong Li. Barring setbacks, Shanghai is scheduled to start shooting in May, and should be completed in time for the ’08 prestige derby. I eagerly look forward to sleeping through it.
Seven Samurai and Shanghai are the products of The Weinstein Company’s $285 million Asian Film Fund, which was amassed as a result of the brothers’ astonishing ability to purchase hundreds of quality Chinese movies and shelve them for years and years. Clearly, Asian cinema has no greater friend than Harvey and Bob Weinstein. Long may they meddle and dilute!