The Raid and The Curse of The Remake…and Kitsch

The Raid was an instant classic. Little known Gareth Evans, a Welshman far from home wrote and directed one of the greatest action films that has come out for decades; with most these days spending more time focused on getting that laugh from a well written sarcastic line that becomes one of the main things you remember walking out of the cinema; whereas walking out after watching The Raid you’re not remembering any one-liners, in fact you’re not really remembering much, just thinking…whoa. Now, I may be a little late to the party on this one; I’d heard rumblings of an English/American remake but had no idea it was actually currently being brought into reality and am consequently hugely disheartened.
Firstly because how I happened to find this out was by looking at Taylor Kitsch’s IMDB page, on his upcoming projects, mostly as I was wondering if he was actually going to be in something decent which is rare, so many films with Kitsch leading them have been huge flops: John Carter, Battleship and Savages. Bit parts took him to starring in Friday Night Lights which by all accounts was a huge success, but this set him up for a fall. Looking at films where he has had a bit part they’ve done well; Lone Survivor got a surprisingly good reception, made for TV The Normal Heart was a fantastic honest film about HIV and AIDS and their devastating effect on gay men in the 1980’s, with Kitsch playing character Bruce Niles brilliantly. However with The Raid being remade and the only so far announced cast are Kitsch and Frank Grillo, despair is the general response. The thought of Kitsch taking on Rama (though assumedly with a much more generic American name) and stepping into the shoes of Iko Uwais is for lack of a better word, horrifying. Currently set up as being directed by the guy who directed The Expendables 3 and written by the guy who co-wrote Out of the Furnace this doesn’t give us much to hope for either.
All things told I originally saw The Raid in cinemas because I had missed a showing of something I don’t even remember, I hadn’t heard of it and knew nothing about it but as always I figured it was worth a shot. I loved it, no question and am grateful that pure chance drove me to see it else I probably wouldn’t have seen it for a few years. . It may be an Indonesian film but it translates effortlessly, without actually needing to be translated. Now subtitles may not be for everyone but in this film most of it can be taken from context so it’s not even really 100% necessary to pay complete attention to them, and most of the time that’s because everyone is moving so fast you have to keep your eyes on the actors or you’ll miss something. Being a fan of foreign film I’ve never quite understood the need to remake something into English instead of allowing it to stand on its own, bringing it to a bigger audience is fantastic but why not let the original stand for itself instead of having to change it into something else. This is something that’s happening constantly both in film and television; Old Boy, Wicker Man, Solaris, The Tourist, Taxi, The Bridge, The Killing, Contraband, The Mirrors, and not forgetting Broadchurch which ridiculously was remade although already in English to further translate to Americans. All examples of those that have not stood up to the originals and millions upon millions have been spent to make a worse version of something that already existed. This doesn’t apply to all remakes there are rare exceptions but for the most part it just ends up disappointing.
There are so many reasons why the original is a great film, it’s choreography, it’s simple but engaging plot, it’s characters and generally the whole thing. This is why I can’t comprehend what an American remake could possibly bring to the mix, and its genuinely saddening to think that the legacy of The Raid could be ruined simply to make a few dollars, instead of making more effort and creating something original. Of course it’s yet to be made or released, and won’t come into play for a while yet so we can’t fully judge but it’s safe to say it will never live up to the original and will just become another foreign film with a failing American remake, but maybe that’s just a rite of passage. There is hope however with The Raid 3 on the horizon but that horizon is about 3 years away…

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