My Sassy Blasphemy

Has Hollywood over reached…?

Hollywood has been remaking Hong Kong movies for years now… And why not? “The Departed,” a Hollywood remake of Hong Kong police drama “Infernal Affairs” netted $290 million worldwide and bagged 4 little golden statues. Sadly, it seems like horror flicks get the Hollywood remake treatment more often with terrible films such as “The Eye” being foolishly lifted from HK cinema. Apparently, they were trying to piggy-back on the success of Japanese horror remakes such as “The Ring” and “The Grudge” – but you have to start with a good movie…

I must point out that this remake trend rubs both ways – most often with HK Cinema emulating Hollywood flicks (since the beginning really), and even directly remaking a few movies (The US thriller “Cellular” was recently remade in Hong Kong under the title “Connected”).

It is no wonder that the next fertile ground for cinema remakes that Hollywood has targeted is Korean cinema. Korean cinema has recently been titled “The New Hong Kong” and rightly so: They spent the better part of the last decade cranking out the hits and pushing the cinematic envelope just like Hong Kong did in the 80’s. Don’t believe me? Check out “Oldboy” – “a beloved by Tarantino” violent revenge flick released in 2003 (I must point out, this was actually based on a Japanese Manga).

“The Lake House” starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock was a remake of Korean drama “Il Mare” – but didn’t fare too well in the box office. While I wasn’t surprised that the Korean film “Memories of Murder” was being remade a la “Departed” style this year, I was shocked to learn that the twisted Korean romantic comedy “My Sassy Girl” was also being remade this year.

Actually, I heard about the “Sassy” remake over a year ago when Jessica Alba was still cast as the lead (the part eventually went to Elisha Cuthbert). Now, I’m not a huge fan of romantic comedies, but I tend to like “My Sassy Girl” and can’t imagine an American treatment of this film – or at least a half-way decent one. One of the key things that makes this movie so fun to watch (for me anyway) is the distinctly Korean cultural element – which don’t resemble American culture at all. Through that lens, even the most outlandish behaviors of the lead character, known only as “The Girl,” and the fact that she still gets the near unwavering loyalty from Kyun-woo seem to make a little bit of sense…

Ever since I heard they were remaking this movie, I knew that a Hollywood treatment wouldn’t do the story justice – would cheapen it – and would never sell to a wide American audience. Well, turns out I was right. The remake was made, but in all its wisdom, the studio decided to make this one a straight-to-DVD film. This seems quite strange for a film starring Jesse Bradford & Elisha Cuthbert to go straight to DVD without getting a big-screen release first… but this merely confirms my suspicion that this remake totally sucks.
(its being released on on 26 August)

Hollywood should really think twice before trying to translate every popular Korean movie into an American film. Just because it flies in one culture doesn’t mean you can transpose it into another cultural setting and retain that same magic that made it a smash hit in the first place. I just heard that the Korean films “A Tale of Two Sisters” and “Failan” are being remade now. One is a deeply disturbing horror film, and the other is a very introspective romance/drama. Gee, I wonder which one is guaranteed to bomb (if not both of them). Do these Hollywood types ever learn?