10 Foreign Films Hollywood Transformed Into Unforgettable Flops
Taking something that worked incredibly well in its original context and saying, "Hey, let's Americanize this!"? Not always a great idea, Hollywood.
It's like that saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". But hey, Hollywood just loves itself a challenge, even if that means churning out a flop or two (or ten).
1. La Femme Nikita (1990) turned into Point of No Return (1993)
La Femme Nikita is a French action thriller about Nikita, a convicted felon who gets a second chance as a secret government assassin. She's trained to be a deadly weapon and then released into the world, trying to balance a civilian relationship with her covert missions. Hollywood decided to give it a whirl and renamed it Point of No Return, starring Bridget Fonda. Plot-wise, it's a near-identical clone, but oh boy, it couldn't hold a candle to the original in terms of nuance.
2. Infernal Affairs (2002) turned into The Departed (2006)
The Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs is all about an undercover cop and a mole in the police force who are aware of each other's existence but not identities. They're each trying to expose the other before time runs out. Martin Scorsese remade it into The Departed, and while it did win the Academy Award for Best Picture, many argue it lost the finesse and tension of the original. Oh, and the box office? The Departed grossed over $291 million, but was it a worthy successor? You be the judge.
3. Ju-on: The Grudge (2002) turned into The Grudge (2004)
The original Japanese horror film Ju-on: The Grudge tells the tale of a cursed house where anyone who enters meets a gruesome fate at the hands of vengeful spirits. The American remake, The Grudge, tried to replicate the eerie atmosphere, relocating the cursed house to Tokyo but filling it with American characters. Sure, Sarah Michelle Gellar fought bravely against the ghosts, but the movie failed to capture the raw terror of the original.
4. Open Your Eyes (1997) turned into Vanilla Sky (2001)
Open Your Eyes, or Abre los Ojos, is a psychological thriller where César, disfigured in a car accident, tries to reconstruct his life through a series of confusing and often terrifying events. Insert Tom Cruise and Penélope Cruz (who was in both versions, by the way), rename it Vanilla Sky, and you get a film that feels more like a fever dream than a cohesive storyline. Critics were split, and while it did okay financially, it left audiences scratching their heads.
5. Let the Right One In (2008) turned into Let Me In (2010)
The Swedish original, Let the Right One In, focuses on the friendship between a lonely boy, Oskar, and a vampire girl, Eli. It's a dark, atmospheric tale of two lost souls finding solace in each other amidst a backdrop of gruesome murders. Two years later, Let Me In tried to capture that same magic but transplanted to New Mexico. Despite being mostly faithful to the source material, it somehow lost the heart and horror of the original.
6. Nine Queens (2000) turned into Criminal (2004)
If you're into Argentine cinema, you've probably seen Nine Queens, a snappy crime drama that keeps you guessing till the end. Two small-time swindlers team up for a day to sell a set of counterfeit rare stamps called the Nine Queens. The American version, Criminal, mimics the plot but loses the original's delicious tension. It's like ordering a steak and getting a hamburger. Both are beef, but let's be real; they're not the same.
7. Oldboy (2003) turned into Oldboy (2013)
The South Korean original is simply legendary; a mind-bending maze of a movie. A man is mysteriously imprisoned for 15 years and then released. His sole mission: find out why. Along the way, he gets embroiled in a sick, twisted revenge game. The American remake starring Josh Brolin? It got the plot beats right but missed out on the soul. Critics slammed it, and, hey, if you're gonna remake something so iconic, you better bring your A-game, not just your A-lister (no offence to Josh Brolin).
8. Shall We Dance? (1996) turned into Shall We Dance? (2004)
The Japanese film centers on a businessman bored with life who finds excitement and passion in ballroom dancing. In Hollywood's hands, it became a Richard Gere and J-Lo starrer. Same dance, different tune. The U.S. version didn't bomb at the box office, pulling in around $170 million globally, but it was a far cry from the charm and subtlety of the original.
9. [Rec] (2007) turned into Quarantine (2008)
"Ready, set, scream!" should be the tagline for the Spanish horror [Rec], set in a quarantined apartment building infected with a zombie-like virus. The movie is a tense found-footage nail-biter that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Cut to Quarantine, the American redo. It's pretty much a scene-for-scene copy, yet it manages to feel like a cheaper, watered-down version of its predecessor.
10. Force Majeure (2014) turned into Downhill (2020)
Force Majeure is a Swedish drama that deals with the fallout when a man seemingly abandons his family as an avalanche approaches during their ski vacation. The event doesn't result in physical harm, but it does shake up the family dynamic. Downhill, starring Will Ferrell and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, attempted to mine the same emotional terrain but ended up causing its own avalanche of meh reviews, ending up with a pathetic audience score of 14% on Rotten Tomatoes.