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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Schafer

English remake of 'Train to Busan' continues to draw skepticism

With the reveal of its title, Last Train to New York, the English remake of the critically acclaimed Train to Busan, continues to raise eyebrows.

The film, supposedly an English retelling of the Korean hit, has already drawn quite a bit of criticism on it’s very concept, with many questioning why the 2015 film needed a remake in the first place.

Some have pointed to the language barrier as a possible culprit, citing many Americans' habit of avoiding movies if they include subtitles. This drew many to connect this remake with Parasite director Bong Joon Ho’s famous Oscars 2020 quote.

“Once you overcome the one inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films,” Bong’s translator repeated.

Foreign films and shows have seen a spike in popularity thanks to Netflix picking up many “K-Dramas”, Anime, and producing the immensely popular Squid Game.

Even so, many Americans still can’t get over the language barrier.

At a rally during the 2020 campaign, Former President Donald Trump mocked Parasites win at the Oscars.

“And the winner is a movie from South Korea! What the hell was that about?” the President joked. “We have enough problems with South Korea and trade, so now we give them best movie of the year? Was it good? I don’t know. Can we get Gone with the Wind back please?”

With Covid fueled anti-Asian sentiment on the rise, this reaction from the then President drew a lot of criticism of its own, but it does bring up a possible reason for this remake’s existence.

Asian Americans have long been under-represented in the film industry, and when they are rarely used, they’re typically depicting a cruel stereotype.

2017’s American adaptation of the anime Ghost in the Shell was criticized for “whitewashing” main character Motoko Kusanagi by casting Scarlett Johansson for the role. The movie flopped due to the controversy surrounding it, is this the same fate that awaits Last Train to New York?

What Last Train to New York has over Ghost in the Shell however, is a star director. Indonesian director Timo Tjahjanto is slated to direct the remake. Tjahjanto has been building up his resume over the years with some stellar horror films, most notably the V/H/S series, The Night Comes for Us, and May the Devil Take You.

His involvement has eased the nerve’s of some skeptics, with many expecting him to take the troubled concept and run with it in his usual creative way.

Only time will tell how this remake will shake out. With no projected release date or trailer out yet, it’s reasonable to assume that this controversy will be left to fester for quite some time.


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