Directed by Gareth Evans, the Indonesian martial arts movie The Raid (2011) is widely regarded as one of the greatest action films ever made.
Providing a breakout role for martial artist Iko Uwais, The Raid is famous for its brutal fight choreography, tracking a paramilitary squad who raid a tower block run by a drug lord. Thanks to the film’s international popularity, American studios have spent the past 10 years vying for an English-language remake. And now, it’s finally happening.
Co-produced by Michael Bay and The Raid‘s XYZ Films (with Gareth Evans as an exec producer), this remake will be directed by Patrick Hughes (The Hitman’s Bodyguard) for Netflix. The new story takes in Philadelphia, with a DEA taskforce battling a drug cartel.
But while The Raid has a passionate fan-following, those fans are not happy about the remake, which currently has no stars attached.
The response to Netflix’s announcement is almost universally negative, with numerous action movie buffs sharing the same two arguments: The Raid doesn’t “need” an English-language remake, and even if it did, that film already exists. It’s called Dredd, and it came out in 2012.
Technically, Dredd didn’t “remake” The Raid because the two films were in production around the same time. They just happen to share a similar story, about a law enforcement officer fighting his way up a tower block full of criminals.
However Dredd (an adaptation of the Judge Dredd comics) is still seen as an English equivalent of The Raid due to its extreme violence and stylish action choreography. It fills the same niche. And while it wasn’t a commercial success at the time, it earned a cult following among action movie fans.
This backlash against a Raid remake feels very familiar. We often see a similar response to American remakes of anime franchises (for instance Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop), and critically acclaimed foreign films. In fact, several people replied to the Netflix announcement by quoting Bong Joon-ho’s 2020 Oscar speech, where he describes subtitles as a “one-inch tall barrier” between American audiences and foreign-language cinema.
Aside from a few exceptions like Martin Scorsese’s The Departed (based on the Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs), English-language remakes have a bad reputation. This is particularly true for American versions of East Asian hits like Pulse, Dark Water, A Tale of Two Sisters and Oldboy, which earned poor reviews compared to the originals.
The Raid remake sets alarm bells ringing because it follows in the footsteps of those movies. Based around the physical expertise of its stars, the original is so beloved that any remake seems like a fool’s errand. And the involvement of Michael Bay and the Hitman’s Bodyguard director doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
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