Guest Post: Comparing five Hollywood original films to their remakes

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Hollywood is crazy about doing remakes, just recently Ridley Scott signed on to direct a remake/reboot/redo/prequel/sequel his own original film Blade Runner. Then his brother Tony Scott announced he was in talks to do a remake of Sam Peckinpah’s great western, The Wild Bunch, I hope to god that this will never ever happen. The original is one of the best films ever made and it’s on my top ten favorite films of all time. So needless to say I’m not happy that Tony “I’m such a hack” Scott wants to do a remake of it.

Anyhoo, I thought of writing an article about comparing the original films to the remakes since Hollywood can’t seem to think of anything original now a days. The way it works is I’ll write about the differences between each films and declare which one is the winner, the original or the remake.

Ok, here goes:

1. Man on Fire

1987 Original: Speaking of Tony Scott, he was actually set to direct this film way back in the 80s but at the time he was still new in the industry, so the studio didn’t want him to take over the project. They let some French director named Elie Chouraqui do the film instead. The original starred Scott Glen as Creasy and Joe Pesci as David, his character is that of Christopher Walken’s in the remake. I saw this version years ago at the recommendation of Quentin Tarantino, he loves the film and can’t stop talking about it while he was promoting Pulp Fiction. To be honest with you, the film wasn’t that good. The first 30 minutes or so was hard to sit through, but the rest of the film was pretty decent. The film was badly directed and acted, especially Joe Pesci, he was quite awful in the film. Also it was a very low budget film so it looked very cheap.

2004 Remake: So 17 years later, Tony Scott was finally able to make the film he wanted to do years back. He has more prominent stars with Denzel Washington and Christopher Walken, and a bigger budget. The remake is pretty much the same as the original, except this one took place in Mexico while the original was set in Italy. Also the remake was much more violent and since it cost $70mil to make, so the action scenes were bigger and louder than the original.

Winner: 2004 remake

2. Infernal Affairs/The Departed

2002 Original: The original version from Hong Kong was a very slick and cool thriller, and I knew Hollywood would do a remake of it right after I saw it back in early 2000s. In fact, Brad Pitt bought the rights to the film after he saw it and was going to star in it himself but he decided to just be the producer. The film was very fast paced with great cinematography and a cool soundtrack. To me though, the film didn’t spend enough time on character development, so we didn’t really know about them all that much. The women in the film were simply there just for eye candy purposes and the main gangster (Nicholson’s character in the remake) was played by a very weak actor.

2006 Remake: So the remake is pretty much the same as the original plot wise with the exception of the ending, I wouldn’t ruin it for those who haven’t seen either the original or the remake. In my opinion, the remake did a better job when it comes to developing the main characters, we know more about them and their motivations as to why they’re doing what they’re doing. Of course it helps a lot when it was directed by the master Martin Scorsese and the fact that Jack Nicholson played the Irish gangster.

Winner: It’s a tough one but I’m gonna have to go with the 2006 remake

3. The Day of The Jackal/The Jackal

1973 Original: The original version directed by Fred Zinnemann was a very smart thriller that took its time to tell the story. The plot centers on a professional assassin codenamed “Jackal” who’s hired to kill French president Charles de Gaulle. The pacing might turn off some of today’s movie audiences but if you’re patient enough, the payoff is pretty good.

1997 Remake: This updated version was loud and stupid, seriously, Bruce Willis still looks like Bruce Willis even after he put on all those supposed disguises. The director of the original felt so insulted by this remake, he threatened to sue if Universal uses the same title, that’s why they cut the title to just The Jackal. Even the author of the original book asked his name be removed from this film. Also, Bruce Willis and Richard Gere didn’t get along at all during filming and vowed to never work with each other again.

Winner: No questions about it, the 1973 original win hands down

4. La Femme Nikita/Point of No Return

1990 Original: The original, directed by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, Leon: The Professional), kicked off the Nikita franchise that somehow never goes away. I really like this version and I even watched the TV show version that aired in the late 90s. I’ve also been watching a few episodes of the new show that stars Maggie Q.

Anyhoo, back to the movie version, I thought it was a very good action thriller with a great concept. The story revolves around a convicted felon who’s given another chance to redeem her life by becoming an assassin for the government. The down side for this movie was the last 30 minutes or so, the film just fell apart in my opinion. It seems to me the filmmakers didn’t know how to end the story and just came up with some lame idea.

1993 Remake: The remake starred Bridget Fonda and I thought she was quite a miscast. Ok so maybe if Fonda gained a few more pounds of muscle, she might look more appropriate for the role. Besides the miscasting, the remake is basically a carbon copy of the original and I enjoyed it.

Winner: It‘s a tie

5. The Mechanic

1972 Original: This version starred the great Charles Bronson and Jan-Michael Vincent. I think it’s one of the best action films of the 70s. The slower pacing might not sit well with today’s movie audiences though. Some suggested that the film has some homosexual undertones since the two leads spent a lot of time together and we don’t see them interact with women. I think that’s BS, the story’s about an aging and highly-trained assassin who wants to train a younger version of himself, so to me it’s more of a father and son story. But of course that’s not the case, if you seen the film, than you know what I’m talking about.

2011 Remake: The remake has been in the work for years. In fact in the late 90s early 2000s, Michael Douglas was in talk to star but it never happened. So finally the new one came out earlier this year and it was one of the most dreadful remakes I’ve ever seen. I didn’t mind the casting of Jason Statham as the main character but I thought Ben Foster was a total miscast. I know some people said Foster is one of the best young actors today but I’m not one of them. To me he’s pretty bland actor, actually he reminds me a lot of Stephen Dorff.

This updated version decided to up ante on the action and violence level but have non of the intelligence of the original. Also, I mentioned some people think the original has the homosexual undertones, so in order to dissuade people from thinking the two characters are gay, the filmmakers decided to show our leads having sex with hookers. Classy I tell you.

Winner: 1972 original


Have you seen any of these films? If you happen to have seen both the original movie(s) and the remakes, please share which version you prefer.