Unforgiven To Be Remade. Trade Your Colt For A Katana
The tales of the lone gunslinger and the ronin samurai are largely the same story just in different settings. The story usually involves a protagonist coming to right a wrong or otherwise settle a score at the end of a skillfully wielded weapon where none would otherwise dare to tread. In the past it was largely westerns that were remade from movies by Akira Kurosawa. Samurai adventures such as Yojimbo into Fistful of Dollars or The Seven Samurai into The Magnificent Seven, or Rashomon in The Outrage all made the transition from feudal Japan to Frontier America often with very little changing to the storylines.
But now the saloon door swings the other way as, according to Variety, Warner Japan announces that they intend to remake Clint Eastwood’s 1992 dying days western Unforgiven into a samurai story in 19th Century feudal Japan. It brings things full circle as Eastwood got his real start as leading material in Fistful of Dollars. So it seems almost fitting that one of his westerns gets the samurai treatment in return.
The re-imaged movie now titled The Unforgiven (Yurusarezaru mono in Japan) with the role of the former gunslinger William Munny into retired samurai being played by Batman Begins and Inception actor Ken Wantanabe. Many of you may also remember him as one of the few bright spots in the otherwise dreary The Last Samurai.
The movie still takes place in the year 1880. But now the location changes from Wyoming to the northern island of Hokkaido. The historical background is based on actual events where Japanese settlers were displacing the native Ainu people after several revolts against feudal rule by the Ainu had been soundly crushed.
Watanabe’s samurai like his Old West counterpart is man with a near legendary reputation for his past mastery with a sword (gun). He is living in unsatisfactory retirement with his Ainu wife when the offer of a large bounty entices him to take up the sword once again.
I am very curious how much of the rest of the story will be played out. Will it be nothing but swordplay, or will there be firearms? Will there still be Japanese versions of Little Bill Daggett, Ned, Schofield Kid, Skinny, Beauchamp or Strawberry Alice? Will the town of Big Whiskey become Biggu Sake? Will the “Tale of Two Gun Corcoran” become “Two Sai”? Will the original dialogue survive the transition? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
Akira Emoto and Koichi Sato have also been cast and Lee Sang-il will direct the movie. Lee’s last movie Villain was nominated by the Japanese Academy Awards for 15 categories and swept for all the best acting awards. The production filming starts in September to November on Hokkaido. If all goes to plan, it is expected to be due out sometime next year.
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