6 Beloved Movies You Had No Clue Got Remade Overseas
We all love to complain about Hollywood's obsession with remakes, but foreign markets have been remaking American blockbusters with a shamelessness that would make the executives currently considering Die Hard But With Emojis blush.
Maybe "remake" is too strong a word, though, as some of these foreign films have so little to do with the originals that it feels like the makers didn't even bother to see the thing they were supposed to be copying. Occasionally, when you combine a country with lax copyright laws with such a total lack of fucks given, you do wind up with something interesting, even if it's still hot garbage. For instance ...
The Russian Avengers Have A Bear
Hell yeah they do! You know what makes everything a hundred times more awesome? A bear. Do the Avengers have a bear? Nope.
We rest our case.
If, for some reason, you need more details, the movie is called Guardians, and they're essentially Soviet-era Avengers, if the Avengers didn't have time for lame heroes like "guy who's good with a weapon that's been out of date for centuries" and "fragile bird version of Iron Man."
There's a guy who can telekinetically shoot rocks around like he's from a dimension where The Last Airbender was actually good, some speedy maniac with a couple of giant swords, Russian ScarJo, and, in case you've forgotten, a bear-man. Who shoots a machine gun.
All four heroes in Guardians are supposed to represent different aspects of Soviet Russia, and while the movie hasn't yet made clear what each hero represents, including a performing bear who gets the shit kicked out of him seems right on the money.
Also accurate: When the Russian bear does the shit-kicking, and no witnesses give even the slightest fuck.
Not that it needs one, but the movie does have a plot. The heroes have to save the USSR from some machine-controlling threat which sounds what would happen if Magneto and Ultron had a Chinese knockoff baby. Not that we're complaining, because a gun-wielding bear-man versus an army of killer robots is a movie we've been wanting since we doodled it in our grade-school notebooks. Their logo even has claw marks on it, because this movie knows when it has a bear by the tail.
Have fun settling for ants and raccoons, America.
Also, in true Russian fashion, this two-hour brawler featuring a bear with a minigun and an assassin with a permanently bloodied curved blade ripping baddies to shreds is rated "age six and up." We eagerly await their inevitable absorption into one of the next Civil War movies.
Bollywood Remakes Fight Club As Fight Club: Members Only
Fight Club is easily the greatest movie ever to get quoted to death at the gym by bros who miss the point. But those dudes are American Film Institute scholars compared to the people responsible for Fight Club: Members Only. It seems the first and only rule of production was to only hire people who last saw Fight Club at least a decade ago and weren't sober.
If you can't watch the trailer, here is an exhaustive list of the similarities it has to David Fincher's Fight Club:
-- There are men who fight according to a series of rules.
End of list.
Mischief. Mayhem. Belly noogies.
Not that the rules in Members Only make much sense. There are basic ones like "valid reason" or "no weapons," but also more complicated ones like "the left hand rule" and "once and for all," which make it sound more like square dancing than brawling. Speaking of dance, this is a Bollywood picture, so of course there are musical numbers. Prepare to witness a new, awful, less metaphorical level of "the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world":
Did we mention that this movie was made in 2006? As you may have surmised from a clip in which the actors party in a club full of hot women while doing a bad '90s boy band rap about how much fun they're having being young and rich, the tone of Members Only is slightly more mellow than the weird and brutal original. The premise is that some college friends start a fight club so that students can air out their differences with fisticuffs, which then evolves into winning a nightclub from a gangster. It's essentially the old "Save the community center with dance!" story, but somehow even less gritty. The fights are slapstick instead of raw, including a sexy wrestling match between two women and this wacky kerfuffle which looks like it's out of a Jackie Chan movie:
But it isn't just the violence that gets the cleansing Bollywood treatment. Instead of Fight Club's dysfunctional romance, wherein Helena Bonham Carter wheezes that she hasn't been fucked like that since grade school, in this movie, we get to watch two hot people have a romantic day on an island paradise.
Altogether, the lesson is clear: Fighting will solve all of your problems and get you laid, kids! Fighting is awesome. Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!
Niger's Purple Rain Is Called Rain The Color Of Blue With A Little Red In It
Purple Rain is the world's sexiest rock opera, thanks to its star, Prince. Niger, like every country on the planet, liked Prince, and Nigerien filmmakers felt that the movie could be remade with some local flavor. The only issue was that Tuareg, the language of the film, has no word for purple. And so the world got Rain The Color Of Blue With A Little Red In It, which features nomadic Berbers riding motorcycles and rocking the fuck out.
Both Purple Rain and The Color Of Etc. star real-life musicians who are trying to make it in the industry while dealing with family problems, romantic woes, creative challenges, and other personal issues. And yeah, you better believe that the remake also features a purple motorcycle.
"Let's Go Crazy In A Completely Socially And Spiritually Acceptable Way."
Moving the film to a mainly Islamic country did prompt some differences, which wound up answering the question "What if Prince was the hero in Footloose?" Instead of being an abusive alcoholic, the hero's father is now a fundamentalist Muslim who bans music and burns his son's blasphemous guitar. Prince's passionate kiss with his lover at the end of the film is also replaced with a stiff hug which neither of the conservative Muslim actors ended up signing off on. Even the musical showdown which leads to the non-kiss/non-hug takes place at a cultural center instead of a club. Boy, is it hard to lead a rock star life in a teetotal country.
Balls The Color Of Blue.
But for a movie shot in eight days with amateur actors on a budget of "Do you think we could get away with stealing the motorcycle?" it's a decent watch. It's also considered a landmark cultural achievement for a people more used to importing movies than creating their own. So now that the floodgates are open, you can look forward to more Nigerien remakes, like our favorite period drama, The Color The Color Of Blue With A Little Red In It.
The Bollywood Version Of Knight And Day Is A Big Pizza Hut Ad
Knight And Day is that Tom Cruise action-comedy you probably saw on a long airplane ride, in which super spy Cruise seduces random civilian Cameron Diaz by almost getting her killed a whole lot. In 2014, the modest box office hit was remade as a Bollywood movie called Bang Bang!, and if you guessed that they were able to work several musical numbers into a spy story, congratulations. As a reward, here's a terrible trailer:
Aside from the "sexy civilian gets tangled up in the life of a sexy spy" theme and the recreation of a few of the original's most impressive action sequences, this is a rather loose adaptation. But the two-and-a-half-hour epic managed to set Bollywood box office records, presumably thanks to the fact that our intrepid hero takes out enemies on jet skis and boats with the strategic use of a goddamn hoverboard.
To be fair, they stole this entire scene from the Bollywood Back To The Future Part II.
The best part is that the bad guys look completely baffled, as though even in a movie universe where spies break into elaborately choreographed dances at a moment's notice, this is considered absurd. But an Indian Tom Cruise taking out bad guys like a heavily armed dolphin isn't even the weirdest part of the movie. That happens when, halfway through, they go to a Pizza Hut.
A terribly located Pizza Hut.
Both the romance and the action take a back seat in this lengthy scene, as our scintillating leads hash out the merits of different crust types in this cozy, classy mountaintop Pizza Hut. Eventually, the hero gets his unwilling lady friend to pick up the check by half-jokingly, half-seriously suggesting that he shoot the clerk and get free food instead. They also get Mountain Dew.
"If you want a refill, the clerk's wife has to go too."
As they're enjoying their pizza, a villain and his retinue appear. This is by far the most people to dine in at a Pizza Hut since 1996. An emotional conversation follows, which quickly devolves into a gunfight, followed by a dramatic dive out the window and down the slopes of Pizza Mountain.
And this is why pizza joints make you pay the tip beforehand.
This somehow leads them to a beach, because sudden beach transitions are apparently a Bollywood trope, and there we get the aforementioned kickass hoverboard fight. It's unclear why the chain thought that billing themselves as a bafflingly remote restaurant that's great for gunfights and awkward revelations about your dysfunctional relationships would be considered good product placement, but those bad guys do seem to love Pizza Hut right before they die.
There's An Unofficial Sequel To Chariots Of Fire That Has Nothing To Do With The Olympics
Chariots Of Fire is a two-hour Vangelis music video about early-1900s British Olympic runners that some people have seen, but absolutely everyone has heard the soundtrack to.
Mr. Bean would later play it for the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, which is how you know a song has achieved true transcendence. But what fans of the 1981 Academy Award Winner for Best Picture no doubt really wanted was an unofficial sequel which continued the true story of Eric Liddell, one of the protagonists. It's called The Last Race, and it picks up where Chariots Of Fire left off, with Liddell swapping the UK for China. To be fair, Liddell's life in China was certainly dramatic, including a tragic death in a Japanese internment camp mere months before World War II ended. But if the trailer is any indication, it's mostly about Joseph Fiennes struggling to survive in a world where he's forced to perpetually move in slow motion.
While the original featured the inspirational story of the challenges of training, the thrill of international competition, and the struggle of balancing athletic pursuit with his deep religious beliefs, The Last Race manages to boil Liddell's character down to running and chatting about Jesus. Yet between the slow-mo, moody piano music, rain, tears, grim looks, and random acts of cruelty, it's the closest Chinese filmmaking has ever come to "Sad British Award Bait Drama." And absolutely none of it lands, thanks to the scene in which it looks like Fiennes is desperately trying to run to the bathroom before he shits his pants.
Complete with his sidekick frantically trying to warn him that they're out of toilet paper.
Liddell is considered a hero in China thanks to his inspirational acts during wartime, but scathing reviews have accused the movie of downplaying his religious beliefs and telling the story of Japan's awful wartime occupation of China with all the subtlety of a brick to the face. So an incredibly British movie about two incredibly British people got an unnecessary sequel made in Hong Kong about why China rules and Japan drools by appropriating the white guy's religious values into generic pro-China propaganda. That's an ingenious retaliation for having to make Matt Damon the lead in a movie where he defends the Great Wall of China from monsters.
12 Angry Men Was Remade In China -- A Country With No Juries
12 Angry Men is a classic film about a jury of roughly 10 to 14 people who slowly convince each other that a defendant who seems obviously guilty is in fact innocent by using wildly illegal investigation methods. But despite the fact that the original film is a celebration of a very American idea of democracy and fairness, two things China isn't super keen on, a Chinese adaptation of the movie managed to go ahead, with government funding, as 12 Citizens.
What isn't immediately made clear in the trailer is that the jurors are not discussing the copyright violation of stealing the soundtrack of the Sherlock Holmes movie. In fact, the 12 evenly tempered men arguing in one room aren't in a courtroom jury at all. China doesn't use juries, nor does its government like to employ concepts like "human rights." Instead, director Xu Ang skirts around the cultural problem by making the story about a law school exam on Western legal systems -- the jurors are ruling on a mock trial. Xu had to submit his script to the government for approval, and because the Chinese government has a sense of irony, the verdict was rendered by a panel of 12 officials. Then, in a turn as unexpected as the one in the original movie, these 12 jurors then decided to offer Xu government funding.
Despite real Chinese courts being far closer to "Confess or we'll knife ya."
The Chinese government was right on the money, as 12 Citizens became an internationally lauded film, even winning a people's choice award at the Rome Film Festival. Like the original, the movie quickly sets aside the crime-solving aspect to cleverly start dissecting social biases. Notably, the divide between rich and poor is a major subject of debate, as is the tendency to rush to judgment in the age of social media. Oh, but most importantly, at one point, a frustrated juror argues that the jury system is pretty stupid. He was presumably the only law student to pass the test.
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