Monday, 13 September 2010


We've been getting remakes of Asian action and horror movies for a while now - hell, Martin Scorsese got an Oscar for his remake of Infernal Affairs. Much of the time the results have not been very impressive: some have been fairly straight xeroxes that did the job effectively enough (One Missed Call), while others have been bland and tedious and completely failed to match their sources (Shutter). Happily the Hollywood studio dullification doesn't apply here as [1] the redo is a pretty faithful transcription, and [2] the remake is a Russian-Swedish effort.

Both Johnnie To's original Breaking News and Anders Banke's scene-for-scene Newsmakers follow the battle between cops and criminals, conducted in the media spotlight as a PR exercise after the police came out of the opening encounter with a poor image. With the criminals cornered in an apartment block but holding a family as hostages, and the police turning the siege operation into a live reality TV show, a small group of cops are caught in the middle and they're more interested in nailing the bad guys than looking nice on television.

Both movies are generally pretty good not just as bang-bang action flicks (especially the opening sequences), but also the more serious bit of criticism in there of how things look being more important than how they really are. Image is all, it seems. But in all honesty there's very little between them, to the extent that I'm not sure whether it would have made much difference if I'd seen the Breaking News first. I think the Johnnie To edges it with some wonderful camerawork - lots of extended long takes and swooping crane shots. But both are worth a look.


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