Michael B. Jordan to Lead Remake of Korean Action Blockbuster ‘A Bittersweet Life’
If you’re trying to dip your toe into the lush, varied world of Korean cinema, why not try starting with Kim Jee-woon? The filmmaker’s skilled at working within genre traditions readily recognizable to Western audiences: he pulled out all the stops for mind-bending horror nightmare A Tale of Two Sisters, got his hooks in the serial killer thriller with I Saw the Devil, and he planted his flag on the gangster picture with A Bittersweet Life. That last picture has landed back in the news today, and if a ten-year-old Korean movie is making headlines in 2017, that can mean only one thing: It’s time for an American remake, baby.
Deadline reports that A Bittersweet Life will soon get an English-language rework courtesy of Fox, and that they’re wrangled a promising pair to start off the creative team. Michael B. Jordan will take the lead role (originally portrayed by Lee Byung-hun, whom Western audiences may remember from last year‘s The Magnificent Seven remake), a fiercely loyal criminal whose mentor instructs him to murder his beloved mistress as a test of his allegiance. For those of you preparing a lengthy blog post on Asian erasure, take some solace in the knowledge that this picture will be directed by Jennifer Yuh Nelson, former Kung Fu Panda 2 helmer and a proud Korean-American presence in showbiz.
American remakes of Asian hits that aren’t The Departed or The Ring tend to go awry, but there’s plenty of cause for optimism here. Jordan’s always a welcome presence onscreen, Nelson has long since earned her bump up to the big league, and the Deadline item’s mention of a “high-concept, character-driven” approach suggests it’ll retain the original’s concern with tortured psychological interiority over all else.