The Taser's Edge

Art of the Remake: Blood Simple

It must have been a year ago when I first heard that the Coen Brothers first (and possibly best) film, Blood Simple (1984), was being remade.  By Zhang Yimou, director of brilliant art films Ju Dou and Raise the Red Lantern and then more recent and just as brilliant crowdpleasers like Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony.  Apparently he wanted to do something ‘humorous’ and ‘light’ (as quoted in the interview I link to at the bottom of this post), so he decided to remake a bloody neo-noir film that launched a dark and bloody film career.

In the transition from art house to international blockbuster, some have charged Zhang Yimou with losing his anti-establishment street cred, and I suppose that must be kind of true if he was picked to be lead director for the Olympics opening.  However, he’s poised to either give up all his remaining credibility or prove everyone wrong with his remake of Blood Simple as a comedy.  (Initial descriptions were saying it was a ‘musical comedy’ but I’m not hearing ‘musical’ anymore.)

I really didn’t expect it to come to US theaters, but here’s the trailer for the film alternately known as A Simple Noodle Story and A Woman, a Gun, and a Noodle Shop.  Even if it’s utter crap, the making of the entire film is worth it just to watch the trailer for the original and the trailer for the remake back to back:

If you want more info, read this interview in which Zhang Yimou talks about seeing Blood Simple for the first time 20 years ago at Cannes and in English without subtitles.  Zhang Yimou doesn’t speak English, by the way.

A not-so-serious-but-it-would-be-interesting final note: it would be amazing if this was the beginning of a decade’s worth of Coen brothers remakes by Zhang Yimou.  There is something culturally universal about revenge, babynapping, and drinking buddies.  Plus, the Coens’ own source materials have not been limited to local cultural sources (see The Odyssey for O, Brother and the Book of Job for A Serious Man).