Sunday, December 15, 2013

America copies Asia

Hmmm. A story where teenagers are forced to fight each other to the death until only one remains. A wildly popular movie. Yeah, it’s called  The Hunger Games franchise. Only it’s a rip off. Or at least that’s how it seems to me. Because over the past year I saw an entirely different movie, called Battle Royale (2000) (picture left) and directed by Japan’s legendary and now deceased director Kinji Fukasaku, based on a novel by Koushun Takami. It’s has exactly the same theme as THG. I haven’t seen any of two The Hunger Games movies, based on the Suzanne Collins novels, and who says she created the theme from several sources including Greek mythology. Nor do I want to see them. But a few critics have compared the first movie unfavourably to the Fukasaku film. And I’m not surprised. And while The Hunger Games (2012 directed by Gary Ross, THG Catching Fire, now playing, by Francis Lawrence) might scare Millennial audiences I’d be really surprised if they have the terrifying impact of an Asian real life thriller, which combined innocence, banality, pop culture and terror in a way that really sent shivers down my back.....Then we come to Spike Lee’s latest movie Old Boy. Where have I seen that title before? Sure enough, another Asian film, this time from South Korea’s Park Chan-wook in 2003, in turn based on a Japanese manga comic. I’ve seen this movie. While I can imagine Lee putting an interesting spin on the subject matter – about a bad guy who escapes a long detainment into a continuing world of violence and revenge - I still can’t imagine it being as fiercely violent and soul-searching as the earlier movie.

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