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Weinsteins Watch: Turning Japanese (and Chinese and Korean)

Weinsteins Watch: Turning Japanese (and Chinese and Korean)

So the Weinsteins have found a new Gwyneth Paltrow: Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi. According to trade reports today (and the story is everywhere), the Weinsteins are trying to seal a deal to make three movies with the actress, including a new live-action version of “Mulan” and a remake of Kurosawa’s classic “The Seven Samurai,” where Zhang would have the juicy role of a young peasant woman who hides from the bandits, according to The Hollywood Reporter. I must I saw the movie again not long ago, and this isn’t exactly a starring role. But maybe the new Weinstein version will break out the peasant girl story and make it the screenplay’s main through-line. Forget the seven samurai, altogether, and why not just call it the Peasant Girl Who Hides? The films will reportedly be in English.

The Weinsteins’ have been on an Asian film buying binge lately, with the creation of their Asian label Dragon Dynasty, buying a large library of Chinese-language genre pictures and the acquisition of Korean actioner The City Of Violence and others. If this is what the Weinsteins mean when they say they have a love for foreign cinema, I have my major doubts, as it’s all genre, action, and thrillers fit for the Weinsteins fan-boy audience — not the adult art-house crowd.

The one bright spot about the Weinsteins foreign acquistions is “Cronica de Una Fuga” (“Buenos Aires, 1977”), Israel Adrian Caetano’s tale of a kidnapping during Argentine’s Dirty War, which raised a stir in Cannes. The Reeler recently cornered Harvey Weinstein at a pubic event and confronted him about the company’s genre and family-friendly foreign titles.

“For every one of those,” Weinstein claimed, “there’s also Chronicles of an Escape, an Argentinian movie that’s about as tough a movie as anybody’s going to see–certainly as tough as City of God. . . . We’ll continue to mix it up, which is the best thing we can do.” But so far, Caetano’s Chronicles is the rare exception in the Weinsteins vaults. Let’s see what they do with it.

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It’s ironic that most Asian films are genre movies, and that they’re really good at it too. Too many films blur those distinctions for you to say genre is by definition not art. And the supposed art movies are made largely for the International, film festival circuit, art house audience. Even people in Asia are unaware of the cinema masters from their own countries. So who’s pandering to who?

Don’t get me wrong…my favorite director is Tsai Ming Liang. But I also understand that only showing his variety of film is not healthy for foreign film as a business.


Bu the way…. Since you don’t post your e-mail address yo public, and I want to submit the news to you…. so I post those news in here….

1. Tartan USA has bought U.S. distrib rights to Hong Kong helmer Johnnie To’s “Election” and “Election 2”

2. Palm Pictures has acquired North American rights to “Ten Canoes”

Thank you

Alan Green

seven guys with swords meandering around a place that really looks like feudal japan who speak english and engage themselves in a remake of a kurosawa film.

i absolutely refuse to see this – ever. i will not taint the memory of ‘the seven samurai’ by watching this.

you know what i would like to see? a frame by frame recreation of gus van sant’s remake of alfred hitchcock’s ‘psycho’ – in japanese. that’s what we need.


According to Screen Daily, The Weinstein Company will release “Cronica de Una Fuga” in January 2007.

Steve Erickson

You treat the Weinsteins’ turn away from the arthouse like it’s a bad thing. On the contrary, I think it would be quite healthy for American film culture if they released nothing but SCARY MOVIE sequels and horror films and gave up any pretense of being hip or “indie.” Leave the foreign films to Sony Classics or a genuinely independent distributor who actually cares about them.


Just reading about the notion of a remake of a Kurosawa movie makes me feel like I need a shower.

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