Posted on Monday, August 30th, 2010 by Russ Fischer
John Woo is in the middle of what might be a renaissance. It’s too early to really make that call, but he’s more active now in the wake of Red Cliff than he’s been in the past few years. And more active with interesting projects — if you haven’t seen Red Cliff it is definitely worth the time; Reign of Assassins looks promising; and there’s the IMAX film Flying Tigers that Woo is preparing to make.
But the spectre of trouble looms. A Variety piece on the director announces that “Woo is hoping to line up A-list talent for his English-language remakes of two hugely influential action films”: Le Samourai and his own The Killer.
The Le Samourai remake isn’t a new thing. Woo has long praised Jean-Pierre Melville‘s classic, cool gangster film as one of his greatest influences. But I keep hoping that the urge to remake it would subside, and that he would concentrate on projects of his own. Woo’s style is the antithesis of Melville’s, and him directly remaking Le Samourai seems like a ridiculous prospect. He’s already done the closest thing to his own version by channeling his fandom through the landmark series of Hong Kong films that spans A Better Tomorrow through Hard Boiled.
Right in the middle of that span is the most Le Samourai-like film of Woo’s: The Killer. That’s almost a more ridiculous remake prospect, but there it is. Variety makes it sound as if Woo might direct, which is mind-boggling. (Remember when he remade his own Once a Thief for TV? No? There’s a reason.) Walter Hill went through several drafts of a possible remake years ago, and more recently John H. Lee has been attached to an American version. Those ideas are bad enough. (I love Walter Hill, don’t get me wrong, but…) Woo remaking The Killer would achieve…what? I honestly don’t know.