It’s Not a ‘Seven Samurai’ Remake if You’re Just Reusing a Plot Device

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Toshiro Mifune in Seven Samurai

I’m not sure why the Weinstein Co. and Japan’s Kurosawa Productions are still referring to their next project as a Seven Samurai remake when it’s nothing more than just another case of using the same plot device as Akira Kurosawa’s film. Movies have been biting off Kurosawa’s classic for years with films such as The Guns of Navarone, Ocean’s Eleven, The Dirty Dozen, The Magnificent Seven, last year’s The Expendables and even Inglourious Basterds had a taste of it. Well those weren’t samurai films you may say… Well, neither is this one.

Variety reports Scott Mann (The Tournament) has been brought aboard to direct the “remake” which will be a contemporary telling of the story centering on a town in Northern Thailand that recruits seven paramilitary contractors from around the globe to defend it from an imminent attack. Come to think of it, wasn’t this sort of what happened in Stallone’s Rambo in 2008 when he teamed up with a group of mercenaries… in Thailand.

Mann last directed The Tournament, which I reviewed here, and as I mine my fuzzy memory, I can say it made for a perfect straight-to-DVD feature, but was hardly the sign of a director on the rise as much as the signal of a director that will likely deliver similar direct-to-video gloss for the duration of his career. It’s a Hollywood role I think Paul W.S. Anderson has pretty much trademarked.

The script for the as-yet untitled Seven Samurai remake was penned by John Fusco (The Forbidden Kingdom, Young Guns), who’s been working on the script for 18 months. However, the first time I reported on this project was back in 2006 when Ziyi Zhang was attached to star. However, I believe at that time it was being looked at as an actual remake, by which I mean it was going to be an actual samurai story.

They will reportedly be working with an estimated budget of $60 million, which is more than enough to get a theatrical release if they stick to that commitment. Mann will help develop the screenplay, with a hope to shoot later this year, which means this could end up competing with The Expendables 2 if Stallone manages to get that off the ground in time to make the already announced August 17, 2012 release date.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with the idea of remaking Seven Samurai, as long as they remake Seven Samurai. Like I pointed out above, this project isn’t remaking the film as much as it is reusing a plot device. I think it would be interesting to see a modern director tackle the material and see what can come of it.

Takashi Miike has been exploring samurai films as of late as I’m excited to see 13 Assassins finally this Friday and will be seeing his latest 3D feature Hara-kiri: Death of a Samurai (Ichimei) in Cannes in the coming weeks. The latter film is based on the classic Yasuhiko Takiguchi novel of which Masaki Kobayashi adapted back in 1962 with Harakiri. I watched Harakiri for the first time last night as a matter of fact and can’t wait to see Miike’s interpretation of the material… in 3D no less.

The way this Weinstein picture is shaping up, it sounds like something that will be dumped to their Dimension banner or perhaps, even worse, Freestyle Releasing. I don’t know, it just doesn’t sound too interesting.