“Very impressive. I am beyond contented. I feel the beginning of a new era for Japanese cinema,” original “Unforgiven” director Clint Eastwood said in a statement to Ken Watanabe about the upcoming Japanese-language remake of his western classic. Undoubtedly, he’s happy with what filmmaker Lee Sang-il has put together, but will fans of Eastwood’s flick agree? We’ll soon find out.
Set to make its North American premiere at TIFF in just a few short weeks, three clips from the movie have arrived to give a better sense of what this remake is all about. While the setting has been changed, relocated to 1880s Japan on the island of Hokkaido, the basic story elements seem the same. Watanabe plays a formerly ruthless killer, reformed by his dear departed wife, roped into seeking vengeance for some cut up prostitutes in exchange for a handsome reward. It’s grimy, gritty and Watanabe does Eastwood’s grizzled, reluctant hero perfectly…but if we’ve seen the original, will we get anything different out of this?