Last week we had the trailer for the American remake of Korea’s Oldboy, a movie that’s destined to lose impact due to familiarity with its bold source material. Now, there’s a full trailer for the Ken Watanabe remake of Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven.
That film, telling the story of an old gunslinger strapping his six-shooter back on for one more ride, is also a film that depends much upon the impact it has on a first watch. An essentially beat-for-beat remake, in any language, might not garner much interest.
Forget about that then, because the new trailer gives us gorgeous scenery and Watanabe looking like he could spit nails, capturing perfectly that stoic, unmoving warrior—here, a samurai—prepared to take on any challengers. There are no subtitles here, but if you have seen the original film, the story will be clear to you.
Although I’m often opposed to simply copying over a popular film for another audience, if you can bring something relevant and interesting to the table then I’m all for it. Just as one hopes is the case with Spike Lee and Oldboy, it seems that director Sang-il Lee (Scrap Heaven, Hula Girls) has a specific vision for his film and Watanabe, directed by Eastwood on Letters from Iwo Jima, has a handle on the rugged archetype he’s fleshing out here. Let’s face it, even Kurosawa remade western tropes as samurai action, and if this team can bring half of that energy and artistry to the table we might have two great films called Unforgiven in the cinematic cannon.
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