We’ve seen many remakes or reimaginings of Hollywood Cinema since they manage to have a large share of film theaters worldwide, especially in regions such as Latin America and the Caribbean where the local filmmakers need to fight to have screenings of their own films in local theaters.
The original remake is usually based on is usually their own IPs. But they also do remakes of foreign cinema, but they are very clever when they do it. They either buy the rights to the original or refrain from mentioning what it’s based on. Some examples include The Departed (2006) based on the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs (2002) and The Hunger Games (2012) being very similar to the Japanese film Battle Royale (2000).
ABOUT REMAKES AND REIMAGINING STORIES
One of the reasons to make remakes is to translate the story to fit the language, culture, and cinema style of the country. In the process, you will see improvements or deterioration of the original script. You will find many examples in Asian and Latin American content. Especially with TV shows where they take the same series and remake it in their own style.
In Asia, it seems like some kind of competition and South Korea takes it very seriously with remakes such as the 2014 KDrama “You are My Destiny”, a remake of the 2008 Taiwanese drama “Fated to Love You”. Similar to India they also invest in music, soundtracks, and sound effects for their shows and films. They do it in their own style and sometimes that makes it worth watching. The same property has been remade in China, Japan, and Cambodia.
Now there is also the question of why make a remake in the first place. The original can be dubbed. There are places in the world with people that are not able to appreciate the original because it will take some work to understand the style of filmmaking, the film industry, and the culture. They don’t want to do that.
You will find examples of this with North American and European audiences. I mean you see how people are not able to pay attention to foreign movies because they are on their phones but in the reviews, you can find instances where they missed the meaning of a scene because they didn’t pay attention to the subtitled, so why should we be listing to their incomplete reviews in the first place. Even then, remakes are not guaranteed success in these parts of the world.
Reimagine in foreign cinema is like “what if” stories based on existing cinema, books, legends, and real-life events. Foreign reimagines manage to stay unique even though it’s the same there may be a difference in the performance that sets it apart from the original. But you will also find generic work, where they copy almost everything. There is no inclusion of cultural trends or different styles of performances that makes the remake different from the original.
ASIAN CINEMA &TV
Korean movies and shows that have reached the mainstream in the West such as Train to Busan, Parasite, and Squid Game are exceptions. There are great Korean Films made every year that never reached the mainstream. You barely see any Japanese Movies.
Anime is the most popular Japanese content that gets pushed and there are so many great stories but what gets popular is the extreme adult themes of Anime such as Redo of Healer, something that has no real message and leans toward self-destruction. Once you’ve done taking revenge you are left with an empty corrupt soul with nothing to live for. Berserk is an anime with adult themes, but it contains many messages like overcoming challenges and keeping fighting for yourself and others.
Türkiye also has great movies and serials, but this is a conflicted country for the West and as a result, you will barely find any of their content on the mainstream. They also make remakes in cinema & TV.
Before streaming Indian Cinema was equivalent to Bollywood for the global audience even the physical media was only based on Bollywood content. In my own experience, the Indians in my circles were only about Bollywood. Bollywood movies are known as musicals with extravagant dancing sequences, over-the-top acting, and action with simple storylines presented in a glamorous way.
Fractions within Bollywood have been trying to make more complex content-based cinema and new styles, but it is a difficult journey. The media will say it’s not what they are used to seeing or point out that since it probably will be a flop why bother talking about it? Sometimes when reading Bollywood reviews, it seems that blockbusters are the only movies to watch.
The complexity of Indian cinema was exposed thanks to the streaming platforms. When you discover that Bollywood is part of Hindi Cinema and that there is an indie section within the same industry that sometimes struggles to compete with the giant. The greatest benefit of international exposure thanks to streaming and social media is that there is healthy competition in the Indian Cinema which is inspirational for the West.
When you discover that Hindi Cinema from the North, is the largest but you also have the Industries in the South consisting of Telegu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, and many other smaller industries creating interesting and entertaining content. It’s a whole new world to explore.
The interesting thing is that the industries do remakes as well and even make a great effort to dub and subtitle the films including the slang pertaining to the region they are dubbed. While that is great for the local audience, for the global audience sometimes it gets confusing with the translation of a translation.
In my opinion, the English and Spanish dubs should be based on the core language, not on the dubbed versions. For the global audience, these remakes let you see the difference in culture and environment. This is where you will see the difference in how the North glamorizes things like the portrayal of poor people which sometimes made them seem like middle class. On the other hand, the South portrays poor people in a more realistic and relatable way.
The Hindi independent filmmakers most like working on remakes of Korean films which are usually action or thrillers. The South industries are more daring in their selection to make remakes. There are cases where the remakes are more interesting than the original.
So clearly see the difference between a monopoly and a diversified market. Monopoly can lead to mediocrity because there is no competition, see Hollywood as an example, and how they managed to destroy many profitable brands such as Star Wars and Star Trek and as a result establish a negative connotation for its own remakes and reimagining.
LATIN AMERICAN CINEMA & TV
The Spanish language Cinema has been one that is difficult to follow. You can find movies from Spain, but Latin America is very limited. They need a free streaming service like Tubi TV that is not geographically restricted to share their content with each other and the world. If you live in Central America, the Caribbean, and South America you may be able to receive free signals from local TV stations that air other than the local news, dubbed foreign content in Spanish, local game shows, interviews, documentaries, series, and telenovelas.
Other than Amazon Prime and Netflix I don’t know any other streaming platform that is not geographically restricted like Tubi TV where you can see Spanish and Latin American content which are mostly serials. Even though they love remaking telenovelas, they are open to foreign cinema & TV that is dubbed in Spanish. Chinese, Turkish, and Indian content which is doing well in Latin America.
GIVING FOREIGN CINEMA A CHANCE
Remakes and reimaginations are a waste of resources when they’re done only for cash grabs. The quality of the performances, cinematography, and writing is so bad, and it doesn’t resonate with the people it’s supposed to resonate with. On a positive note, the original sometimes gains the attention of the global audience because the remake was so bad. Some people will make excuses to not watch the original whether the remake is good or bad because it is a foreign film.
Unfortunately, there will always be people that are unable to appreciate anything in a film. How bad must the movie be to give it a 1 out of 10 score? There was seriously nothing you could appreciate. Not even the cinematography, stunts, music, or anything? Or do you like to hate it just to hate? It is an easy thing to do and get clout in the process. Hating something because it’s different gets more attention online than showing an application for the differences.
Since the opinion of mainstream critics has become irrelevant and most people have shifted to regular movie watchers that share their experiences watching foreign films. It’s very disappointing when you see how disrespectful and condescending some people can be when their own cinema has flaws. And you also need to have an interest to watch the film, otherwise, why do you even bother?
It is very normal for people to have different experiences watching a film because each individual connects with the story differently. Just be honest with your assessment. I see too many people judging movies through the same lens. For the film to be good it should be an Oscar-level quality and that is just unfair. It’s discouraging for new filmmakers that are just learning the craft. And let’s be honest the Oscar-winning films are not films that normal people watch so why are we using their standards then? It doesn’t make any sense.
The general audience wants entertaining and engaging stories. That can be achieved with many methods. It’s not that complicated. When it’s done successfully people will rewatch the film again and again or even buy the film and its merchandise which generates revenue for the filmmakers.
In the end, we should experience it ourselves and not rely so much on what other people say.
Filmmakers of the world don’t be discouraged but these “critics” and influencers. Keep trying, keep growing, and keep striving to make good entertaining cinema & TV. Only those that try will reach greatness. And sometimes you need to try a lot to get there.
Unlike those that are afraid to even try new styles, are lazy, and chose mediocrity as their standard to make content, those who do their best will rise eventually. The making of remakes is criticized a lot but what is the difference with a story inspired by another story, yet it is presented as an original concept? You chose a similar plot but made some changes in the story like instead of male leads you’ll have female leads.
There are way too many unnecessary cases of plagiarism and copyright infringements that were unnecessary. Just be honest and say what you’re inspired by and give credit where credit is due.
It’s just simple, entertain the audience.
Let’s keep an eye on Foreign Cinema & TV and support alternative entertainment!
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