Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ghost: In Your Arms Again (ゴースト もういちど抱きしめたい / Gōsuto Mouichido Dakishimetai)

No Heart

The first question to pop into mind is, is there a necessity to remake Jerry Zucker's Ghost, which starred Demi Moore and the late Patrick Swayze, setting the box office ablaze to the tune of half a billion dollars worldwide, propelling clay pottery into the stratosphere of sensuousness boosted by Unchained Melody. It's the image that comes to mind when one remembers this film, and it's a tremendous hard act to beat for any remake. One may think that the Japanese may fuse their own romantic sensibilities into this one, but the end result is sucking all romanticism out of it, and becoming the parody that Zucker is also famed for.

Narratively it's almost the same as the Hollywood version, with young CEO Nanami (Nanako Matsushima) falling in love with Korean potter Jun-Ho (Song Seung-Heon) and having their romance cut short when one of them has to depart from this world because of a crime committed that was disguised like a petty theft, only for the story to unravel itself and provide that more than meets the eye touch, with the plot thickened to include a threat to the life of the still living partner. And to bridge between the lovers, they communicate via hack medium Unten (Kirin Kiri) who provides comic relief as the proxy between the two worlds since she's the only party who can hear the undead. And she's the best part of the movie.

So what went wrong? Well, everything unfortunately. There's a distinct lack of chemistry between the two leads, and their romance was very forced, like fitting square pegs to round holes. The direction by Taro Otani also came up short, and the alarm bells rang out when he allowed Nanami to give Jun-Ho a slap thinking that he had seduced her into a one night stand, but that slap was a meek, laughable brush of the cheek, with Jun-Ho reacting like a good one had been smacked right across his face. Making things worse, having a whiny male also made it unbearable, with Jun-Ho lamenting why Nanami refuses to say those three words that he spouts so freely. To think it's usually the other way round.

One of the highlights of the Hollywood film is, for its time, the painstaking level of detail gone into making Swayze's character ghostly, and that means removing every frame of shadow and reflection because well, spirits don't have them. Here, you can detect attempts to do something similar, but not as meticulous, which is a pity, though the effects of passing through humans and walls were still nicely done. Like a typical Japanese film, there must be Kawaii moments and this come courtesy of a ghostly, friendly child almost like Casper in manner, to milk some expired emotions in the last act when you know the two main leads cannot deliver at the emotional level.

To make matters worse, the romance here was cold and void of feelings. The bed scene made Mediacorp attempts look like vulgar hardcore porn, and Unchained Melody was covered by a really weak rendition, coming on at such a wrong time that demonstrated impotency at delivering when it mattered. This remake is ghastly cold, and tried too hard to evoke a sense of sincere warmth that usually comes automatically with the territory of the genre. If you want to watch Ghost, then watch the original Hollywood version as this remake pales in comparison, offering nothing new nor matching up to the bar already set.

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