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12 Best US Remakes Of Asian Movies

Updated on May 31, 2014

When "The Ring" opened to blockbuster success in 2002, probably few of the millions of Americans who went to see it knew they were watching a remake of a Japanese hit. Raking nearly $120 million at the US box office alone, "The Ring" spurred remakes of several Asian hit movies.

Studios are scrambling to cash in - several Asian movies are being remade with big stars such as Richard Gere, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jennifer Connelly and Keanu Reeves.

Is this a new Hollywood trend of going where the cash is? Not exactly. Because this is not new at all. US remakes of Asian movies started half a century ago with "The Magnificent Seven", a 1960 remake of the Japanese 1954 movie "Seven Samurai". This was followed by "A Fistful of Dollars" (1964) based on the Japanese movie of 1961, "Yojimbo". But that was that until "The Ring" brought it all back.

In recent years there have been a surge in remakes of Asian movies which just goes to show that Asian filmmakers are amongst the best.

The following 12 are what I personally think to be the best remakes of Asian hit movies so far.

A Fistful of Dollars

This is an unofficial remake of Japanese director Akira Kurosawa's 1961 film "Yojimbo".

"A Fistful of Dollars" is an italian production (Spaghetti Westerns) but I include it here because of its storyline. It was released in Italy in 1964 then in the United States in 1967.

A Fistful of Dollars

A stranger arrives at the little Mexican border town of San Miguel. He got news about two feuding families vying to gain control of the town: on the one side, the Rojo brothers, consisting of Don Miguel (the eldest and nominally in charge), Esteban (the most headstrong), and Ramón (the most capable and intelligent); on the other, the family of the town sheriff, John Baxter. The Stranger, spying an opportunity to make money from the situation, decides to play both families against each other. He ended up siding with one family because the other family's prisoner reminded him of someone he once knew.

Yojimbo

A ronin (masterless samurai) arrives in a small town where competing crime lords make their money from gambling. He convinces each of two crime lords, Seibei and Ushitora, to hire him as protection from the other. The samurai, in the end pretending to be on Ushitora's side, convinces Ushitora to attack. After a series of battles in which most of the henchmen on both sides are killed but Ushitora is ultimately victorious, the survivors are then killed by the ronin.

Bangkok Dangerous

"Bangkok Dangerous" was written and directed by the Pang Brothers (Danny Pang Fat and Oxide Pang Chun), a remake of their 1999 Thai film of the same name. Nicholas Cage's production company, Saturn Films, purchased the remake rights. He also starred in the US version.

Bangkok Dangerous (US remake)

Hitman Joe goes to Bangkok for a month-long assignment, to kill four people for Bangkok ganglord Surat.

He hires pickpocket Kong as his go-between, a condition of the contract being that the gang will never meet Joe. Contracts from the Bangkok gangsters go through Kong via a nightclub dancer, Aom, who becomes romantically involved with Kong.

Joe's first execution is done in traffic with him riding a bike and stopping in front of the car. His second target is a gangster/sexual predator.

Originally he plans to kill Kong before he leaves but after Kong gives him information about the second target he begins to train Kong. For the third execution Kong assists Joe, the kill does not go as planned, with the target nearly getting away before Joe catches him and shoots him after a chase in front of many shocked onlookers. Before the third kill the gang attempt to identify Joe, he warns them off.

His fourth target is the Prime Minister of Thailand. Joe is about to make the kill when he has second thoughts, is spotted, and escapes. Joe is now a target and is attacked at his house by four gang members. He manages to use explosives to take them out and is faced with the choice of rescuing Kong or leaving the country unharmed. Joe decides to rescue Kong.

Bangkok Dangerous (Thai)

Kong is a deaf-mute gunman, an assassin for hire who can neither hear his gunshots nor the people pleading with him not to kill them. He receives his contracts through Aom, a hostess at a Bangkok go-go bar.

One day while cleaning up, a customer named Joe is in the Bangkok forest with his girlfriend, Aom. Joe notices Kong watching them. He then offers the pistol to Kong, who impresses Joe and Aom with his pinpoint shooting.

Joe then takes Kong under his wing and teaches him how to shoot.

Working for a mob boss, Kong is sent on a job to Hong Kong. He shoots his target while riding on the Hong Kong subway.

When Kong returns to Bangkok, he meets Fon, a pretty pharmacist. With Fon, friendship grows into something deeper. This changes Kong's perspective on life as he realizes that life can be meaningful, even for a deaf-mute assassin like him.

Aom has trouble with one of the mob boss' henchmen. She spurns him but he rapes her. Enraged, Joe takes matters into his own hands, killing the henchman, which brings the mob's wrath down on Joe, which in turn leads to more revenge killing by Kong, and a final big shoot-out in a water bottling plant.

Watch Nicholas Cage's Bangkok Dangerous trailer.

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Godzilla

"Godzilla" is a loose adaptation of the Japanese 1954 science fiction movie of the same name. Despite getting negative reviews from film critics and winning no less than 4 Golden Raspberry Awards including worst remake, it ended up becoming a box office success, grossing more than $300 million worldwide.

Godzilla (1998)

Recent nuclear testing in the French Polynesian islands has caused the transmutation of a species of lizard into a giant fire-breathing amphibious monster. It raids several local villages and heads for Manhattan, the only place in the world it could hide in the huge buildings and be near the water. It's up to the military, one scientist, and French commandos to save New York by capturing or destroying Godzilla in a rumble to the finish. 


Godzilla (1954)

The film tells the story of Godzilla, a dinosaur-like kaiju mutated by nuclear radiation, as he ravages Japan, bringing back the horrors of nuclear war to a country that experienced it at first hand. As a result, an archeologist, Kyohei Yamane hires Hideto Ogata and her daughter, Emiko, in search of the monster. However, they must stop Godzilla from rampaging the country.

They succeed but with grim thoughts. They don't know if the death of Gojira is the end or the beginning of an apocalyptic era. Gojira's death has come at a terrible price and Dr. Yamane believes that if mankind continues to develop weapons of mass destruction, Gojira may return.

Watch Gojira (1954) original Japanese theatrical trailer.

Mirrors

"Mirrors" is based on a 2003 South Korean horror film "Into The Mirror". The story was changed for the most part but the basic idea involving mirrors and several scenes were retained.

Mirrors

Former NYPD detective Ben Carson is hired to work as night watch of the remains of the Mayflower Department Store that was partially destroyed by fire many years ago. When he goes to the rounds in his first night, he finds that the mirrors are impeccably clean and his colleague explains that the former night watch was obsessed by the mirrors. After a couple of nights, Ben sees weird images in the mirrors, but due to the lack of credibility of his past, his ex-wife Amy believes he has hallucinations as a side effect of his medication. When Angie is found brutally murdered in her bathtub, Ben discovers that there is an evil force in the mirror that is chasing him and jeopardizing his family.

Into The Mirror

After accidentally causing the death of his partner during a hostage situation, Wu Young-min quits the police force to work for his uncle as head security of Dreampia, an immense shopping center. Dreampia is currently in the rebuilding stages as a fire destroyed parts of it five years ago. The re-opening was scheduled in a few days, until some strange murders begin to occur in the building. It seems that the victims, all employees of the mall, have committed suicide in very gruesome and unconventional ways.

Young-min is very suspicious about the police explanation, and starts his own investigation, but unfortunately for him, an old acquaintance, Ha Hyun-su, is in charge of the police investigation. Hyun-su still blames Young-min for the death of their friend and is not interested in cooperation. The more clues they stumble on, the more strange and unnatural the truth becomes.

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One Missed Call

"One Missed Call" is a 2008 remake of the 2004 Japanese film horror film "Chakushin Ari".

One Missed Call

After the death of their friend Shelley, Leann Cole receives a voice mail from the future of the date and time when she would die. On the scheduled day, Leann sees weird things and in the precise informed hour she is attacked by a supernatural force on a footbridge over a train station while talking to her friend Beth Raymond. Beth meets Leann's boyfriend Brian, who also received a call, and witnesses his death on the street. When her roommate Taylor Anthony receives a call, Beth befriends Jack Andrews, who tells her that his sister was the first victim of the phone call. They decide to investigate the connections of Jack's sister and find the name of one Marie Layton. Jack and Beth run against time trying to save Beth from her fate.

Chakushin Ari

A young girl, Yoko, gets a strange message on her cellphone - strange because the call has come from her own number and is dated two days in the future. What's even stranger is that the message seems to have been left by her - all it says is "Oh no, it's raining", immediately followed by a bloodcurdling scream. She lets her friends listen to the message, including Yumi who along with everyone else, assumes it was just a prank. Still, something eats away at Yumi, who can't help thinking it's more than that.

Two days later, Yumi receives a call from Yoko as she is walking home one night. During the conversation it starts to rain, causing Yoko to say "Oh no, it's raining". Yumi remembers that phrase as the same message from two nights previously, but before she can warn Yoko, Yoko screams before mysteriously plunging off a bridge into the path of an oncoming train. Yumi sits in shock on the other end of line, as, unbeknownst to her, Yoko's severed arm mysteriously dials an unknown number.

At Yoko's funeral, Yumi overhears a group of schoolgirls talking about a mysterious rumour about a vengeful spirit killing people through their cellphones. Yumi is unsurprisingly a bit worried about this and proceeds to warn all her friends, including Kenji, a guy that Yoko has a crush on. Kenji then lets Yumi listen to a message of the same mysterious quality. She panics and tells him to stay put, but he scoffs at this and proceeds to the elevator. The elevator opens to an empty shaft and Kenji gets mysteriously pulled down to his death. As his smashed body lies at the bottom of the shaft, his twitching fingers dial an unknown number.

Pulse

Wes Craven and Ray Wright wrote "Pulse", a remake of the 2001 Japanese horror film "Kairo".

Pulse

Hacker Josh Ockman invades the computer of Douglas Ziegler, who is developing a powerful wireless signal, and accidentally releases a mysterious force that takes the will to live of human beings, generating a suicide epidemic and increasing the force. His girlfriend and student of psychology, Mattie, sees each one of their common friends die and the destruction of the modern world, and together with her new acquaintance Dexter, they try to plan a virus developed by Josh in the network to shutdown the system and save mankind.

Kairo

The plot centers on ghosts invading the world of the living via the Internet. The film is a philosophical exploration into the alienation and loneliness of modern existence due to technology. Communication breakdown and isolation are the main themes of the film.

The film features two parallel storylines.

The first storyline involves a young woman named Kudo Michi and her three colleagues; Sasano Junko, Toshio Yabe and Taguchi. Taguchi has been missing for some days working on a computer disk. He was later found dead, apparently from suicide. Michi and her colleagues ponder why Taguchi committed suicide but cannot find any answers, although there are clues on the computer disk Taguchi was working on, including an image of his apartment with Taguchi's ghostly face reflected in a computer monitor.

The other storyline features Ryosuke, an economics student who signs up to an Internet Service Provider but watches in horror when his computer connects to a series of images showing depressed people in dark rooms, before showing the text "Do you want to meet a ghost?" Another student, Yoshizaki explains his theory that the place where souls go to is full, and the ghosts are invading the physical world.

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The Departed

Among the twelve remakes I included here, I find "The Departed" to be the best of all. This is a 2006 crime thriller remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film "Internal Affairs". "The Departed" is noted for its star-studded cast, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Anthony Anderson and Alec Baldwin.

It won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing at the 79th Academy Awards.

The Departed

Young undercover cop Billy Costiganis assigned to infiltrate the mob syndicate run by gangland chief Costello. While Billy is quickly gaining Costello's confidence, Colin Sullivan, a hardened young criminal who has infiltrated the police department as an informer for the syndicate, is rising to a position of power in the Special Investigation Unit. Each man becomes deeply consumed by his double life, gathering information about the plans and counter-plans of the operations he has penetrated. But when it becomes clear to both the gangsters and the police that there's a mole in their midst, Billy and Colin are suddenly in danger of being caught and exposed to the enemy - and each must race to uncover the identity of the other man in time to save himself.

Internal Affairs

The story focuses on a police officer named Chan Wing-yan, who goes undercover into a triad, and triad member Lau Kin-ming, who infiltrates the police department. Each mole was planted by the rival organization to gain an advantage in intelligence over the other side. The more the moles become involved in their undercover lives, the more issues they have to cope with.

The Magnificent Seven

"The Magnificent Seven" is based on the Japanese 1954 film "Seven Samurai" by Akira Kurosawa who also directed "Yojimbo" in 1961.

The Magnificent Seven

A bandit terrorizes a small Mexican farming village each year. Several of the village elders send three of the farmers into the United States to search for gunmen to defend them. They end up with 7, each of whom comes for a different reason. They must prepare the town to repulse an army of over 100 bandits who will arrive wanting food.

Seven Samurai

A poor village is frequently looted by armed bandits losing their crop of rice. Their elder advises the villagers to hire a ronin (masterless samurai) to defend their village. Four farmers head to town to seek out their possible protectors, but they just can offer three meals of rice per day and lodging for the samurai. They succeed in hiring the warming-hearted veteran Kambei Shimada that advises that they need six other samurai to protect their lands. Kambei recruits the necessary five samurai and the brave jester Kikuchiyo and move to the village. After a feared reception, Kambei plots a defense strategy and the samurai start training the farmers how to defend their lands and families for the battle that approaches.

The Lake House

"The Lake House" is a remake of the South Korean 2000 romantic drama "Il Mare".

The Lake House

Dr. Kate Forster works in a hospital in Chicago. Alex Wyler is a social developer and architect. At different times, they both lived in the same glass house on a lake built by Alex's father. The two begin a correspondence purely on chance when Kate leaves a note in the mailbox of the lake house asking for the new tenant to forward her mail to her new address in the city. Alex gets this message, however he gets it two years prior when he himself lived in the lake house. When the two discover that they are indeed corresponding through time through the time warped mailbox, they learn more about each other and end up falling in love. Kate has the benefit of being able to tell Alex of what happens in the future. Alex has the benefit of being able to experience things that Kate has experienced in the past. He even has a chance to meet her before she knew him. Kate devises a plan to meet in her present/Alex's future so that they can spend their life together at the same time. However much can happen to Alex between his present and Kate's present, two years in his future.

Il Mare

After Eun-jo ends her tenancy of Il Mare, a posh house by the sea, she left a Christmas for the eventual new tenant to forward any mail of hers to her new address. The year was 1999.

It is 1997 and Sung-hyun, the first owner of Il Mare is moving in and finds in his mailbox the Christmas card from Eun-joo. Thinking it was a joke, Sung-hyun leaves her a letter telling her so and reminds her that its 1997 not 1999. Eventually the two realize that they are separated by two years of time but can somehow communicate through the mailbox and begin to form a friendship through their letters

The Ring

Gore Verbinski directed, and Naomi Watts and Martin Henderson star in this 2002 remake of the Japanese horror film "Ringu".

The Ring

A mysterious video tape is killing off anyone who watches it. Whenever the victim watches it, the phone rings, telling them they have only one week to live. A young reporter named Rachel is investigating these events, but after she and her small son watch the tape, it becomes a race against time to find out why the tape is killing everyone and how it could be stopped.

Ringu

Single mother and television reporter Reiko Asakawa makes a connection between the recent death of her niece and a story that she is covering about a strange video tape. It seems that a rumor has begun spreading around local schools that a group of teenagers in a nearby town watched a strange video tape and as soon as the tape ended the phone rang and told them that in a week they will all die, and at the end of that week all that saw the tape died. Determined to find out if her niece was one of the teens that watched the tape Reiko enlist her ex-husband on a search for the tape and the source of the tapes curse and meaning. Soon her curiosity gets the better of her and she watches the tape, only to see a strange series of images and what appears to be a strange long haired woman. After extensive research Reiko discovers that the strange woman on the tape was a young girl named Sadako who was killed because of her strange ESP powers.

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Shall We Dance?

This is a romantic comedy remake of the Japanese movie of the same name.

Shall We Dance?

John Clark is a man with a wonderful job, a charming wife and a loving family, who nevertheless feels that something is missing as he makes his way every day through the city. Every night while taking the train home from work, he passes a mournfully run-down dance studio called Miss Mitzi's. Standing in the window is Paulina, one of the studio's instructors.

Clark begins to feel a deep inner connection to Paulina. One night he gets off the train to sign up for a beginner's series of ballroom dance lessons. Gradually he begins to bond with a group of equally unhappy people.

Shall We Dansu?

The accountant Shohei Sugiyama is feeling bored with his routine life, limited to hard work and stay at home with his wife Masako Sugiyama (Hideko Hara) and his teenager's daughter. One night, while traveling home by train, he sees Mai Kishikawa in the balcony of a dance school. Two days later, he decides to visit the school and secretly take ballroom dance lessons every Wednesdays night. However, he becomes ashamed to tell his family his secret. Meanwhile, Masako feels the changes in the behavior of her happier husband, and hires a private eye to investigate whether Shohei is having an affair.

Shutter

This is a remake of the 2004 Thai horror film with the same name. The heroine's name is the same in both versions and the full storyline is intact.

Shutter 2008

Photographer Benjamin Shaw and his wife Jane are in Japan with Ben's friends Bruno and Adam. While driving on a lonely road during the night, they have a car accident with Jane hitting a girl first and crashing a tree. When they awake, the police do not find any body and Ben believes that Jane imagined the situation. Later when Ben reveals his latest pictures, he finds some mysterious shadows, while the couple is systematically haunted by the ghost of the girl. Jane investigates and finds that the victim was Ben's former shy and weird girlfriend Megumi Tanaka, who worked as translator for Ben. Later Jane discloses deep and hidden secrets about the relationship of Megumi, Ben and his friends Bruno and Adam.

Shutter 2004

In Bangkok, photographer Tun and his girlfriend Jane have a car accident on the road, with Jane hitting a girl. Tun does not allow her to help the girl and they ran away leaving the girl lying on the road. When Tun reveals his latest pictures, he finds some mysterious shadows, while the couple is haunted by the ghost of the girl. Tun investigates and finds that the victim was his former shy girlfriend Natre. Later Jane discloses deep and hidden secrets about the relationship of Natre, Tun and his friends.

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    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 5 years ago

      i like the lake house and the ring was really scary.

    • squid2hub profile image
      Author

      squid2hub 5 years ago

      @goo2eyes lm: thank you for visiting.

    • patinkc profile image

      patinkc 5 years ago from Midwest

      I loved the Japanese version of Shall We Dance!

    • Mandy Stradley profile image

      Mandy Stradley 4 years ago

      Cool lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      The Magnificent Seven is one of my Favorites, nothing beats a Classic!! ;D

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great list of U.S. remakes! I knew the Ring was originally an Asian movie, however I didn't know that the Lake House was. I loved the Lake House, great movie! I would like to see Shutter, Mirrors, and One Missed Call, I hadn't heard of them before. Thanks! *Blessed by a Squid Angel!*

    • Elaine Chen profile image

      Elaine Chen 4 years ago

      I like Hong Kong movie

    • pumpum profile image

      pumpum 4 years ago

      This is a great list of really great movies. I will write down some of them because I haven't seen them all, most of them I did watch. I love asian movies, they are so much better than other movies. Great great lens!!Thanks for sharing.

    • mihgasper profile image

      Miha Gasper 4 years ago from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU

      It looks a lot of inspiration came from Asia!

    • Scullyvan profile image

      Scullyvan 4 years ago

      Japanese horror movies freak me out because they don't follow the same rules as Western horror flicks. There are some great films in here. I'm a particular fan of Yojimbo.

    • LabKittyDesign profile image

      LabKittyDesign 4 years ago

      There was a loose remake of Zatoichi with Rutger Hauer in 1989 called Blind Fury which was pretty terrible (there was a 2003 Japanese remake of Zatoichi called Zatoichi that was pretty great). And, of course, The Hunger Games is really just a remake of Battle Royale. :-)

    • SquidooPower profile image

      SquidooPower 4 years ago

      Great list.

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      Great movie selection! some of them i watched before :)

    • hessa johnson profile image

      hessa johnson 4 years ago

      Mifune is one of my favourite actors. This is a great idea for a lens. I wouldn't have thought of this.

    • JennieR profile image

      JennieR 4 years ago

      I actually saw the Japanese Shall we dance before the US one, and preferred the Japanese! Great lens!

    • squid2hub profile image
      Author

      squid2hub 4 years ago

      @JennieR: thanks for dropping by :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      Nice compilation. Made me realize something :) Thanks for this. Great help.

    • Erin Mellor profile image

      Erin Mellor 3 years ago from Europe

      Generally I find US remakes are pretty poor, but they serve as a good reminder to watch the original, because if people are pouring money into a remake then the original is usually worth a look.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 3 years ago

      The 1998 version of Godzilla was a mix of entertaining and very ridiculous. Pretty funny movie, for the most part.

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