Friday, 22 October 2010



As I'm sure I've said many, many times before, I have absolutely no problems with remakes in practice. I don't think movies are Sacred Texts that Thou Shalt Not Muck About With; if you can bring something new and exciting to an existing movie (particularly one where there's room for improvement and the bar's quite low) then they should go for it. John Carpenter's The Thing is a fantastic remake of a movie I'm actually quite indifferent to, although the Hawks original does have an appreciative following. I even have no particular loyalty to something like Ealing's The Ladykillers, and if the Coen Brothers want to relocate it to the Deep South and get Tom Hanks to put on a funny voice then I can't find it in myself to get spittingly angry with them. Look at it as a film on its own terms.

Over the last few years Hollywood have been remaking every Asian horror movie they can get their talons on - Shutter, The Ring, The Grudge, The Eye - with varying degrees of success, and Martin Scorsese finally got an Oscar for a remake of Infernal Affairs. In a pleasing development, Connected is actually a Hong Kong remake of an American original. It's an official remake - the production company and the writers of Cellular are credited - and it sticks to its source material for about 80% of the time: a woman is kidnapped because her brother (originally husband) has a video recording of the villains committing a heinous crime; the villains want the video back and hold her and her little daughter (originally son) hostage to get the camera back. Utilising her engineering knowledge she manages to get a smashed phone working and manages to connect with the cellphone of a shabby debt collector (originally a hunky beach bum), leading him on a wild few hours of chases, fights and corrupt cops to get hold of the camcorder.

The downside is that if you've seen the original Cellular, which is a neat, enjoyable thriller, there aren't many surprises with Connected as the makers stick fairly closely to the original story. The upside is that the action sequences are much better, particularly the car chase which now goes on for ages and involves a massive amount of screeching tyres and crunching metal. I love car chases when they're done for real rather than enhanced in the computer, and this is a terrific example of a car chase in which stunt drivers genuinely smash real cars into each other. The movie is directed by Benny Chan, who did the thumping HK cop thriller Invisible Target and he knows how to stage, shoot and edit action sequences.

If I had to be a tad picky I'd say that it goes on a little bit too long at the end; once the story's finished, there's about five or ten minutes that could have been dropped. But that, and familiarity with the original film (which robs this remake of some of its narrative effect) are pretty much the only things wrong with it. Bottom line, I really enjoyed it.


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