Friday, February 1, 2008

Remakes: Posters for Bangkok Dangerous, Shutter

Posters for two Thai remakes have just been released, for the Pang Brothers' Bangkok Dangerous starring Nicolas Cage, and Shutter, which was originally made in 2004 by the director team of Banjong Pisunthanagoon and Parkpoom Wongpoom.

I have to say, I'm not enamoured by either of them. Bangkok Dangerous gets the point across - hey, it's a Nic Cage movie! But what city is depicted in the skyline silhouette? This is not the Bangkok I know. Maybe it's an amalgamation of various Bangkok landmarks, but I recognize none.

Bangkok Dangerous is a remake of the 1999 debut by Oxide and Danny Pang, the Hong Kong-born identical twins who got their start making movies in Thailand. Principal photography (for some reason I want to avoid saying "shooting") on the remake took place in September and October 2006, while there was a military coup going on. Seven-foot-tall stuntman Conan Stevens wrote about the wrap party on his blog, back in 2006.

In the remake, also directed by the Pangs, Cage plays a hitman on assignment in Bangkok, taking the protagonist role that was previously held by a deaf-mute character. Well, you can't have wacky Nic Cage in a movie and not have him speak, now can you? So the deaf-mute role was reassigned to the hitman's Thai girlfriend, played here by Hong Kong actress Charlie Yeung. There's also an "errand boy" character, played by Thai actor Chakrit Yamnam, recently seen in Opapatika.

In addition to the poster, there's a trailer for Bangkok Dangerous. It's in Spanish, but I get the point. Where the original Bangkok Dangerous was a meditative, dramatic study of the life of a hitman, the remake is an adrenaline-fueled thrill ride, with go-go dancers (well, the original had them, too), long-tail boat chases and big explosions.

The original, by the way, is available on English subtitled DVD, with the Region 2 Tartan release or the Region 4 from Mad Man in Australia being touted as the better presentations over the Hong Kong or Thai releases.

While I can tolerate Bangkok Dangerous, because it makes no pretensions about what it is, I am less tolerant of the remake of Shutter, for no good reason. I mean, what the heck is that poster?

Though generally well liked, Shutter has always been at somewhat of a disadvantage. Originally made in 2004, Shutter came late to the party during the Asian horror craze in the early 2000s, which caused it to be unfairly lumped in with all the J-horror. "Shutter is quite derivative," Twitch's Todd Brown, a long-time champion of the original film, noted back in March 2007. "But it also succeeds in taking what is now a rather tired formula and re-injecting it with life, creating a film that is significantly more than the sum of its parts."

Now, after The Ring, The Grudge, One Missed Call and some others that aren't coming to mind right now, Shutter is late to the party again. People haven't even seen the remake yet, and they are already bitching about how bad it is going to be.

What can I say? See the original! It's available on English-subtitled DVD.

But hey, maybe it will do okay. As the New York Times has pointed out recently, there's a reason for these remakes - they make money.

Directed by Masayuki Ochiai and produced by remake king Roy Lee, Shutter 2008 stars Joshua Jackson in the role originated by Ananda Everingham, as a young photographer, who with his new wife (Rachael Taylor), has an accident and starts discovering mysterious shadows in his photographs. The trailer for Shutter has been online now for awhile, and alludes to some ghostly gettin-it-on with the male star.

Meanwhile, there's the elephant in this room of Hollywood remakes of Thai films that I haven't yet mentioned: The Eye, which opens in the U.S. today. It was originally made by the Pang Bros. in 2002, and remake rights were picked up by Cruise-Wagner Productions. After being kicked around in the Hollywood studio system for a few years, it is directed by the French team of David Moreau and Xavier Palud, and stars Jessica Alba in the Angelica Lee role as a blind violinist who starts seeing ghosts and terrifying visions after she receives a corneal transplant. Like the Shutter remake, people haven't even seen it yet (because there apparently were no previews for critics), and are already heaping scorn on it.

(Via Rope of Silicone, The Movie Blog)


  1. The skyline is all weapons pointed up, isn't it? A few might be actual building silhouettes, but you've got mostly a bunch of guns and missiles.

    Pretty clever, really. It does look like a skyline. And the message is Bangkok = Dangerous.

    The fact that that remake is directed by the Pangs bodes better than another Asian horror remake with attractive b-listers. I think Hollywood figures that having an unknown J-horror director do the Shutter remake will somehow give it more street cred. I should reserve judgment until I see it, though, I suppose.

  2. Okay, I see it now.

    At first, I thought it looked more like Shanghai than Bangkok.


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