Posted on Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 by Russ Fischer
Things were so simple when the original Red Dawn was released in 1984. The world seemed like a smaller place. Our enemies were defined clear and simple. (Well, sometimes.) If a studio wanted to make a movie about how much it would suck if one of those enemies managed to invade the States, it would do it. Don’t like that? John Milius, the original Walter Sobchak, says tough shit, and bugger off.
Things aren’t so simple now. The identities of our enemies aren’t nearly as clear-cut. Some, for example, might say that China is an enemy simply by virtue of the fact that the country is one of the last bastions of communism. Others look at China’s ballooning economy and say,”well, wait a second here, maybe we can live with the communism so long as they have all that delicious money.” (And a great many others aren’t really worried about China one way or the other.) Go read the Economist if you want to get into details there; meanwhile I’ll cut to the chase.
In 2009 a remake of Red Dawn was shot, and in 2010 it was shelved when solvency of MGM dissolved like a wicked witch in The Wizard of Oz. Now there’s a plan forming to release the film. Trouble is, the Soviet enemies in the original were replaced with Chinese aggressors for the remake, and in the past couple years China has become one of the most important economies for media consumption. Oops? Enter digital artists, who can safely change the Chinese insignias to those of North Korea.
The LA Times says,
…the filmmakers now are digitally erasing Chinese flags and military symbols from “Red Dawn,” substituting dialogue and altering the film to depict much of the invading force as being from North Korea, an isolated country where American media companies have no dollars at stake.
North Korea is a much easier enemy from a political standpoint. That’s in part because the country has been ruled by two generations of madly insane members of the Kim family, who also happen to hold a rabid anti-Western stance. And, thanks to the Kim’s madly insane leadership, the country is a closed economy and not any sort of emerging economic superpower, so no one seems to care what North Korea thinks. That being the case, though, how can they invade us?North Korea is a highly militarized, nuclear-powered state, but it doesn’t have many likely means of bringing power to US shores. Or is it foolish to expect this to make any sort of sense?
I’m not even going to get into the question of whether the actors portraying the Chinese forces can be changed to appear Korean. Obviously they can’t, but given the way that Asian characters are often cast, I expect that the film already features a mixture of Chinese and Korean actors. (No footage from the film has been shown, so there’s no confirmation of that, but a quick IMDB perusal suggests that at least one major enemy role is already played by an actor of Korean heritage.)
And while graphic elements of the film can be digitally changed so long as there’s money to pay for it, how will the movie play when aftermarket North Korean elements are added to the dialogue? And some of that dialogue will now have to be re-written, re-recorded and dubbed into the film. What a stupid, pointless mess. Is there really enough of an audience for a Red Dawn remake to make this worth the trouble? I don’t think there’s any belief that China is an audience for this film, but the country is already aware of it, given that state-run newspapers excoriated the script due to the anti-Chinese content. The idea is that by putting the movie out, MGM and whatever company partners to distribute it (likely Sony) will face further backlash in China.