It didn’t occur to me 6 days ago, when it was announced that Allen Hughes had been tapped to direct a remake of the 2005 South Korean gangster film, A Bittersweet Life, that 3 years ago, in 2009, Denzel Washington was attached to star in a Stateside remake of the same film.
Described as a violent crime drama, the synopsis for the original A Bittersweet Life (directed and written by Kim Ji-woon) reads:
Sun-woo is a devastatingly effective, but businesslike enforcer for Mr. Kang, a mob boss who owns La Dolce Vita, the Seoul nightclub where Sun-woo employs the sloppier, less reliable Mun-suk to keep things running smoothly. Kang is involved in a developing feud with another boss, President Baek, when he goes on a business trip, leaving Sun-woo in charge, and discreetly asking him for a special favor. There’s a “special” young woman he’s been seeing, Hee-soo. He suspects she’s been seeing another man, and he asks Sun-woo to look after her while he’s gone, and find out if she’s cheating on him. If Sun-woo catches them together, Kang tells him, he should either phone Kang and tell him, or “finish them off yourself.” But Sun-woo finds himself fascinated with Hee-soo, a cellist, and his inability to follow Kang’s orders soon brings a world of trouble down on his head. Of course, Sun-woo is fully capable of making some trouble of his own.
Denzel Washington was to star as the Sun-woo character, but at the time, no director was attached.
The film had been in development at Fox for some time (the original film was released in 2005), and not much else was known about the remake project back then, in 2009.
Skip ahead to today, as I browsed the latest issue of Production Weekly, a publication I subscribe to (so no link), which is released every Thursday (with a preview copy a few days before), and I was reminded that Denzel Washington once was attached to star in the remake, because the latest issue of Production Weekly lists Denzel Washington as the film’s star.
I immediately went to IMDBPro to see if the project is listed on Denzel’s page, but it’s not. Although, it’s not listed on IMDBPro at all yet; definitely not on Allen Hughes’ page, even though he’s been officially announced as the film’s director (6 days ago).
So either the folks at Production Weekly know something nobody else does, or they are expecting that Denzel is still attached to the project, since he initially was in 2009. But they’re usually on the ball, hence this post; although, as you can see, there’s a question mark at the end of this post’s title.
It would make sense that Denzel would be starring, with Allen Hughes coming on board, since they’ve worked together recently, in 2010, on The Book Of Eli. So, a reteaming wouldn’t be much of a surprise, especially as Denzel seems to like working with directors he’s already familiar with – Spike Lee, Norman Jewison, Edward Zwick, Tony Scott, Jonathan Demme, Carl Franklin, and a few others, all of whom he’s worked with at least twice throughout his career; some a lot more than twice, like Spike and the late Tony Scott.
So, why not Allen Hughes for a second time…?
We’ll find out soon enough, since the remake is being fast-tracked by Fox and New Regency, with Anthony Peckham (Jack Ryan, Sherlock Holmes) penning the script.
Here’s a trailer for the original film: