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Movie Odds: Which Foreign Films Will Be “Americanized”?

Trevor Dueck

by Trevor Dueck in Entertainment

Dec 20, 2016 · 12:47 PM PST

Believe it or not, there are actually great films that don’t get made in North America. I know, “thanks Captain Obvious.”

However, for whatever reason, not many North Americans seem to enjoy watching foreign films. Some naysayers point to not liking subtitles or terrible voice overs, while others don’t like anything that isn’t made in ‘Murica. Whatever the excuse, Hollywood feels the need to find those special foreign flicks and “Americanize” them.

Sometimes the retelling of foreign films goes completely unnoticed. Most people aren’t even aware 1987’s Three Men and a Baby was first a French film called Trois hommes et un couffin. Martin Scorsese’s 2006 film The Departed was a direct remake of a 2002 Hong Kong film called Infernal Affairs. Even Quentin Tarantino’s cult classic Reservoir Dogs bears marked similarities to cinema that already existed in a foreign land (City on Fire; Hong Kong, 1987).

For every great foreign remake, there are more stinkers than one can shake an air freshener at. Take Park Chan-wook’s 2003 thriller Old Boy which was an instant classic. Ten years later, Spike Lee decided to give it a terrible remake starring Josh Brolin, and it completely bombed.

Nowadays a good foreign flick usually gets noticed thanks in large part to internet buzz and Netflix. In 2016, foreign films like The Salesman and Toni Erdmann received a lot of buzz, along with the saucy The Handmaiden. (The buzz around that one probably had a little something to do with all the nakedness.)

Will one of those become the next Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? Check out our odds on which foreign films will get a North American makeover.

Outside of the odds, this list is also a great resource for films to check out. And speaking of great lists, make sure to take a look at our best-of 2016 lists, like top horror films of the year and top comic book adaptations.

Odds on Foreign Films being “Americanized

Suicide Club (2001 Japan): 2/1

So many Japanese films have been remade by Hollywood. Asian cinema, in general, tends to be a little weirder and more violent than American audiences prefer. Suicide Club is no exception. The film, which focuses on investigators looking into why teenage schoolgirls are offing themselves, is gory and darkly humorous. I could definitely see an American studio doing a version which tones down the gore. In today’s age, where cyber-bullying has become a key issue, a violent and satirical police procedural on the subject would resonate with audiences.

Wild Tales (2015): 2/1

All hail the great Argentinian actor Ricardo Darin. A lot of the films that he has starred in have been given the remake treatment, so this 2015 anthology Wild Tales, could be next. This is one of those films that is firmly a character study on how people deal with stress. It’s multiple stories that intersect that all involve civilized people who cross the line to barbarism when pushed to their brink. A lover’s betrayal, a return to the repressed past and the violence woven into everyday encounters drive the characters to madness as they give into the undeniable pleasure of losing control.

World on a Wire (1973 Germany): 2/1

This film was ahead of its time, and without it, we may not have gotten modern sci-fi classics like The Matrix or Inception.  The story is about a supercomputer that hosts a simulation program which includes an artificial world with over 9,000 “identity units”. They all live as human beings, unaware their world is just one big simulation. World on a Wire was directed by the uber-cool Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Although the film is convoluted at times, a cerebral and well-thought-out remake in today’s virtual reality age would be amazing.

Battle Royale (2000 Japan): 3/1

The Japanese film and novel Battle Royale is like a grown-up version of The Hunger Games. The synopsis is pretty simple; a bunch of middle school students are told they are going on a field trip, but after they are gassed and fitted with electronic collars, they are sent to a remote island and forced to kill each other off until only one remains. The original is a lot gorier and more violent, and I’m surprised nobody has wanted to remake the bloody and twisted film.

Eyes Without a Face (1960 France): 3/1

I’m actually surprised this older French horror film hasn’t been remade in America. The movie had a huge influence on filmmaker John Woo and singer Billy Idol, who wrote a song with the same title. Maybe some feel a remake is sacrilegious, due to how many people hold this art in high esteem. However, nothing is sacred anymore, and a movie about a doctor who kidnaps women in order to use their faces to repair his daughter’s disfigured one could work in modern times. The daughter is kept behind a mask throughout the film, so it leaves a lot to the imagination.

Y Tu Mamá También (2001 Mexico): 4/1

This is one of those films that had pretty great success crossing over, and doesn’t need to be remade. But there’s money to be made in a remake of this steamy story about two Mexican teenagers who go on a road trip with an attractive older woman. While they embark on their adventure, they learn a little bit about themselves, life, friendship, and sex. Instead of Mexico, it could be a trip across America on Route 66. I’m just guessing, but a story about two teenage boys seducing an older woman is something that would likely still get a big audience.

Here are a few more that could get remade in the not-too-distant-future.

  • Tell No One (2006 France): 4/1
  • Audition (1999 Japan): 4/1
  • The Raid (2011 Indonesia): 4/1
  • Train to Busan (2016 South Korea): 5/1
  • The Handmaiden (2016 South Korea): 5/1
  • The Spirits of the Beehive (1973 Spain): 5/1
  • Stalker (1979 Russia): 6/1
  • A Prophet (2009 France): 6/1
  • Cronos (1993 Mexico): 7/1
  • Shaolin Temple (1982 China): 8/1
  • Pioneer (2013 Norway): 10/1
  • Martyrs (2008 France): 10/1

Feature Photo Credit: Anchor Bay Entertainment

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