Continuing a pattern of unexpected action movie news, it looks like we’re getting a remake of John Woo’s 1989 action masterpiece, The Killer. There are a number of reasons this is newsworthy, and the least of them is that we’re getting a remake of John Woo’s 1989 action masterpiece, The Killer. At this point I’ve become accustomed to people taking the crazy, vibrant genre flicks I learned to love as a youth and remaking them in really bland ways. I’m not generally opposed to remakes, but when you’re subjected to crap like 2014’s RoboCop: The Cure for Insomnia it’s hard not to get a little bit jaded. The simple news of the remake’s existence is at best shrug-worthy.
But this remake is special. First of all, it’s John Woo who’s going to be directing a remake of John Woo’s 1989 action masterpiece, The Killer. Yes, the Dove-man himself is back! This will be his first American feature since 2004’s Paycheck, a film that definitely lived down to its name, and I’m pretty excited about his return. Yes, it’s been a long time since Woo has been anywhere near the top of his game, but I’m hoping revisiting the heroic bloodshed genre he defined might bring back some of his balletic, slow-mo magic.
The second bit of exciting news is that Woo has cast the Oscar-winning Lupita Nyong’o in the titular role, originated by Chow Yun-fat. Nyong’o is a great actress and charismatic as hell1, and I’m sure she’ll knock it out of the park if she’s given good material to work with. Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential) is apparently one of the people working on the script, so I have some hope. Here’s hoping this trend of prestigious actresses taking badass action roles continues.
My only qualm about this project is the decision to gender-swap Chow Yun-fat’s character. Slow down! Don’t close your browser tab! I am absolutely not a Woo-bro who’s pissed at the prospect of social justice warriors destroying my manly childhood. People have been trying to get American remakes of The Killer off of the ground for decades, starting with a script by Walter Hill during the early 90s. A stumbling block has been the incredibly close friendship between the two male leads—a friendship that people were concerned would come across as homoerotic to American audiences. For that reason, there were plans to gender swap the role even back then, so if you’re looking to blame all of this on Millennials “virtue signaling” or something you’re barking up the wrong tree. I don’t know what’s more depressing, that people thought Americans would find a close, male friendship “hella gay” in a negative way, or the fact that they were probably right. Here’s hoping we’ve come far enough as a society that that is not the thought process here, and I’m curious if Danny Lee’s cop character will be swapped out as well.
Other than that perhaps dumb bit of cynicism on my part, I’m pretty excited about this. If this time around it’s a female cop and a female assassin protecting a blind, male singer, I’d be pretty pumped, and the more slow motion doves the better!