Wednesday, 16 March 2011

'Red Dawn' remake just got even sillier.

This has to be the most hilarious, jaw-dropping movie news I have heard all year. Were it the first of April, I'd think someone was taking the piss. This shit is worthy of For Your Consideration.

MGM are changing the nationality of the villians in the Red Dawn remake. TWO YEARS AFTER FILMING ENDED.

Honestly, I'm astonished it took that long. LA Times break it down: how China is "the fifth-biggest box office market outside of the United States, with $1.5 billion in revenue," quite apart from the well-reported financial power it has over much of the west. China has long since proven it has no qualms about banning or otherwise censoring anything the government deems derogatory, and I say that from first-hand experience having lived there for a while. During my stay Mission: Impossible III was withheld from release owing, I believe, to images of washing and/or dead chickens hanging outside aparment windows (which, yes, you see everywhere in urban China), and reports on Ang Lee's best director Oscar for Brokeback Mountain championed the win as a coup for China, failing to mention that in his acceptance speech Ang Lee expressed pride in his Taiwanese heritage, and also failing to make any reference to the film itself lest they be seen to endorse homosexuality.

And with that paragraph this blog has now most likely been barred in China.

But, as Dan Mintz of DMG Entertainment is quoted by the LA Times, "the film itself was not a smart move." Boy, is he right. Red Dawn is a great bit of gung-ho action fun, but 100% a product of its time, its anti-Soviet paranoia being fairly absurd even by 80s standards. Its Brat Pack cast makes it even harder to take seriously, particularly as it includes both the leads of Dirty Dancing and a (presumably) saner Charlie Sheen. John Milius may have aimed for a serious war movie, but he turned out a camp classic. To attempt to revisit that concept in a post-9/11 America, where it's tricky to find a comparable adversary to whom the 'red' label is still applicable, the results were invariably going to be awkward at best.

So now begins a process of "digitally erasing Chinese flags and military symbols... substituting dialogue and altering the film to depict much of the invading force as being from North Korea, an isolated country where American media companies have no dollars at stake." And, guaranteed, every single review or feature on the movie will make reference to the fact.

In short, there is no way people aren't going to know. As Ren Brown of CHUD says, the net result of this is "audiences will get to play 'spot the thing that used to be Chinese' the entire movie," much as we all looked out for the doubles/digital simulations of Brandon Lee in The Crow and Oliver Reed in Gladiator. And I shouldn't think I even need to emphasise the inherent racism in the assumption that all Orientals look the same.

That MGM would go to such cynical, some-might-say cowardly lengths is perhaps no surprise given their well documented descent down shit creek minus paddles in recent years. There seems to be a great deal of hope/expectation that post-Thor Chris Hemsworth will be a big enough box office draw to save them, but overall I think the lesson here is simple: just because you can do a remake doesn't mean you should. Alas, I don't think Hollywood is going to learn that lesson anytime soon.

(By the way, the T-shirt above is from 80s Tees - what can I say, I Google image searched Red Dawn and that was the funniest pic I saw.)

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