Even though some remakes rub enough people the wrong way that they incite bitching all the way through production and release, it seems a lot of film geeks have come to terms with the way things are. You can look in the face of the Hollywood remake turbine and see Clash of the Titans, or you can see True Grit. All about perspective they say!
The thing is, I have to say that I still flinch every time a studio decides to remake a brand new foreign title, especially when the motive seems solely to make the faces American and switch over the language. You have to wonder how long before they just start mo-capping American facial performances over already finished foreign films…
That technique isn’t being brought out yet, but in this case it is The Raid that is the target for Americanization, by way of Screen Gems. The Indonesian TIFF darling boasts an extremely simple set-up that seems to have empowered it to be a hardcore guns, brawls, and bruises action spectacle. I’ve only seen the trailer, but even there you get a good peek at the dynamic camera work, exuberant fighting and shoot-outs, all of which looks exciting, well-blocked, and completely visible. Nothing about it seems particularly under-budgeted or otherwise unpolished, so it seems clear enough that they just want American faces and English to happen so they can make it a traditional mainstream release, as the studio has done with Rec and Quarantine.
As groan-worthy as it may be, it’s very hard to argue with this kind of logic anymore. Consider Attack the Block, which seems to have finally admitted defeat and packed up its theatrical run, after months of web build-up and great buzz. The film is a completely polished action spectacular that would not have been out of place in an American multiplex, save entirely for the less-than-accessible accents of the main characters. A familiar face and a legitimate wide-release marketing campaign and Attack the Block could have at least been a modest, Colombiana-sized success, but they went with a faithful release and it just didn’t work out (aside from having an impact on poster design). I assume Screen Gems foresees a similar fate for the The Raid, as it’s simply not going to crossover and do real American business without some homogenizing. They’re right unfortunately, but I really fear they’re going to get a workman director to cheaply replicate the action, slap longer lenses on the (3D?) camera, engineer the action out of smeared coverage in the edit bay, and completely fuck up the appeal of the whole thing in the process. Yeah, the concept is killer in terms of setting up a barrage of fighting and violence, but it’s the style that’s the commodity here. Considering writer-director Gareth Evans would prefer to follow up the film with his own sequel rather than remake it over here, I wonder if that fact will be lost when all is said and done.
Regardless, the deal is done. In the meantime, make sure you see The Raid in its original form at first opportunity. The film does have a distributor, so it should make its way into American theaters to some degree.
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