Deja viewing: a guide to Chinese remakes

Time Out breaks down the which to watch of Chinese film remakes

This month, My Best Friend's Wedding is hitting Chinese screens. No, the Julia Roberts romantic comedy hasn't received a two decades-late Mainland release. Instead this movie's a remake of the American original, with Taiwanese star Shu Qi (The Assassin, If You Are the One) taking the main role. Hollywood has incurred plenty of fan wrath by remaking foreign movies, but an increasing number of Chinese movies have been poaching their stories from abroad too. We break down which to watch and which to skip.

What Women Want

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What's It a Remake of? What Women Want, the 2000 Nancy Meyers film starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt.

How Different Is It? Barely different at all. The setting gets changed from Chicago to Beijing, but the story of an arrogant advertising exec who gains the power to read women's minds remains more or less unchanged.

Which Version Should I Watch? Well, the original stars noted anti-Semitic icon Mel Gibson, while the remake has a double-dose of charming star power from Andy Lau and Gong Li. Go with the Chinese version.

What Women Want (Chinese version)

Only You

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What's It a Remake of? Only You, a mostly forgotten 1994 romantic comedy starring Marisei Tomei and Robert Downey Jr.

How Different Is It? The plot is, once again, almost the same. Both movies are about a young woman who runs off to Italy because she believes that the man she's destined to marry is travelling there. Do both movies end with a desperate cliched chase to the airport in pursuit of someone's true love? We don't want to reveal spoilers, so we'll just say that they might.

Which Version Should I Watch? The remake doesn't boast any improvements on its source, so may as well stick with the original. You can watch the original here.

20 Once Again

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What's It a Remake of? Miss Granny, a South Korean hit from 2014 about an elderly woman who finds herself magically transformed into her younger self.

How Different Is It? The basic premise and plot are the same in the two versions, but the Chinese remake takes a less comic tone than the South Korean one, and some cultural details have been changed.

Which Version Should I Watch? If you don't mind a bit of schmaltz in your films, you wouldn't do too badly with either. The Korean version can be seen here, while the Chinese film is found here.

Bride Wars

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What's It a Remake of? Bride Wars, a pretty dire American comedy starring Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway as frenemies who face off when their weddings are scheduled for the same day.

How Different Is It? Well, the actresses in the Chinese version are worse, and a pointless TV game show subplot has been added. Other than that and some extra parental pressure about settling down, the Chinese version is strangely similar to the original, tying itself to Western wedding traditions at the expense of anything Chinese.

Which Version Should I Watch? Do yourself a favour and skip both.

  • 4 out of 5 stars