So I’m back. It’s gonna be hard to review this without comparing it to the original so I won’t.
So first off, if you watch the two versions, you can really see the difference in culture and values. So that’s a thing to appreciate if you have seen the original and wonder if this one is worth your time. Largely, this is worth you time only if you want to make a comparison instead of like ‘enjoying’ it as much as you did the original; or unless you are here for Lu Han, then you are in good hands.
Let’s get him out of the way first. Lu Han is an ex-member of kpop group EXO and EXO-M (think Super Junior and Girl’s Generation, he’s from the same label). This is his third time in a film; I can’t say much about his acting growth or whatever cause I have not seen anything of his prior to this. What I can say is that he is not bad. Compare to his Korean counterpart, I would say he plays a much more convincing bad-boy turned good. But that largely could be due to the fact that his character has a lot more screen-time and dialogue. They really banked on his fame here. Changed the b-boy dancing stuff to music and made the brother’s activities much more of a component in the narrative. They even had a song that was played and sung throughout (which actually gets heavy handed when a concert happens). Okay, enough about him really. End of the day, his performance was welcomed and probably one of the highlights of the film.
Most of the set pieces from the Korean version are present here albeit changed to accomodate the cultural difference (eg. bus instead of subway). There are slight character background/motivation changes here. There’s more of a good vs. evil here as our protagonist and the killer both experience lost at their own hands and they represent different sides of the same coin sort of thing. There’s an interesting view on this app that’s pretty much like the Chinese version of tinder. In the Korean version it doesn’t really explain how the killer coerce the girls into his car but here they explicitly blame the killings on the app. It’s an interesting take on the killer’s motive but executed rather heavy-handedly.
To sum it up really, the big picture was kept but the details were thrown out and replaced with other stuff. In a financial sense, Lu Han will get them their budget and more back but as a film itself, the details that was sacrifice was what made the original a lot more real and authentic. Cast chemistry is non-existent here. Characters have jarring different personalities throughout the film. They can be cold one minute and super nice the other and there’s no natural change to it whatsoever. To it best would to say that they had set-pieces that they wanted to do but did not really worked at all in setting them up or connecting it. And I find the biggest issue with this film. Scenes just don’t have the heart and emotions from the original. It feels tacked on and yeah, not natural nor authentic.
I mean in terms of cinematography it’s pretty much the same but the screenplay, line delivery and performance is just not up to par. I wonder how the director feels about this remake. Is making a lot of money enough to justify this product? But in any case, if you seen the original and would like a pretty much shot for shot comparison, check it out. I think it would be an interesting ‘assignment’.