Chinese discount

The more that I think about it, I realize that Hong Kong film-makers don’t get too stringent about not being able to get what they want. They are smart enough to realize that a film can be remade, especially when a film can lead to sequels and cash-ins. Lau Kar-Leung was never going to sway Jackie Chan from his style to the former’s own vision for Drunken Master II, so he should probably have played along before filming Drunken Master III without Jackie. This should’ve been the obvious solution following what happened when Jackie decided that he would remake The Protector (1985) for the Asian market after James Glickenhaus had finished it.

One film-maker who did benefit from following Jackie’s solution was Wong Jing. He was the producer of Fight Back to School (which became the highest-grossing H.K. movie). The writer, Barry Wong, wasn’t happy with how the screenplay was changed, so Jing agreed to produce the original version (Truant Hero) so that no more arguments would take place. Alfred Cheung was the star of the consolation prize version (which grossed far less money). Naturally, he would learn from this for his own career as a director (despite the law of diminishing returns). However, unlike Jing, he would prove to be less profitable.

Jimmy Heung, a powerful H.K. producer, found a way to work in harmony with Jing when he decided that there would be two versions of the same story – Casino Raiders and Fatal Bet. The latter was an English remake whereas the former was co-directed by Jing. Jimmy allowed Jing to direct the gambling scenes in the former, which allowed himself to direct them in the latter. However, he still needed Jing to write the screenplay since his English is superior. In retrospect, it’s precisely because of this that he should’ve been the director. That way, Jimmy would have more creative freedom on Casino Raiders.

The Green Hat also had a self-inflicted English remake titled My Mistress, My Wife. The former’s title means someone who is a cuckold. The latter starred Almen Wong and Robert Samuels, who became the first black actor to have the main male role in a Chinese romance. It’s ironic because, in 1992, Alfred co-wrote a movie where he was dressed up as a black man i.e. Freedom Run Q (the letter is a cute reference to the juvenile caricatures of adults as seen in Q-version animation). In 1993, Alfred appeared in a movie which contained racist dialogue (Lamb Killer). In 1990, he donned blackface in The Nocturnal Demon.

Anyway, his remake of his 16th movie did not get released because not too many people in H.K. would pay to see a movie where the male lead is an obscure black guy. It wasn’t commercial enough to appeal to a Western audience unlike Way of the Black Dragon or The Tattoo Connection (two 1978 movies). Robert played a middle-class homewrecker (right down to being bespectacled). It was shot with synch-sound dialogue. Madonna’s Maverick company footed a lot of the bill. Alfred Cheung had to have been embarrassed when outshined by Sharla Cheung (an actress making her mark as a producer in a way that no actress in the West has ever attempted). She remade Dream Lover as Romantic Dream.

The former was remade because Tony Leung Ka-Fai wasn’t contractually obliged to reshoot scenes. The former is a drama, whereas the latter is a comedy. Sharla tried to destroy Tony’s career by claiming that he broke his contract. As a result, he received less film roles but, once the truth got out, Sharla’s career waned far more worse than his. Romantic Dream was basically a vanity project disguised as a saving grace venture. The Green Hat was screened at the same time as Dream Lover. Both bombed. The Green Hat was more profitable, but Romantic Dream was more profitable than The Green Hat. This is a prevalent practice in America. The most prominent example is Some Kind of Wonderful. John Hughes wasn’t happy about having to change the ending of Pretty in Pink.

It was good for him because it necessitated him to try ideas for the story in general that he wouldn’t have been able to try in Pretty in Pink e.g. the idea of a beating heart being symbolized by images of Valentine’s hearts being stuck on drum skins. Eric Stoltz got a chance to be a teen idol after being fired from Back to the Future by Spielberg. In Eric, John saw a fellow loser. Eric benefited because it facilitated more people to see the man behind the titular Mask. This had an impact on him being cast in The Fly II, which was released five months before one of Eric’s friends (i.e. Rebecca Schaeffer) was murdered (the above image was taken from the October 1990 issue of a British magazine called Company). Like Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful (also starring Stoltz) suffers from an obviously reshot ending, but it has more redeeming qualities than its pinker predecessor with it being a labour of love.

Alfred Hitchcock wanted to fulfill his contractual obligation to Paramount, so he wisely decided to remake The Man Who Knew Too Much. He knew that a new generation would be made automatically aware of the original. Michael Mann was wise enough to not complain about having to pare down L.A. Takedown, because he knew that he would later be able to remake it as Heat. It’s common for directors to raise funds from investors and distributors by showing them finished scenes. Naturally, directors can do the same thing by making short films when they’re starting out. Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Dirk Diggler Story was a template for Boogie Nights, whereas Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket was a platform for the elevated remake.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s