Over the weekend, Deadline reported that Justin Lin, the director single-handedly responsible for sending the Fast & the Furious franchise into the stratosphere (and who also helmed the indie movie that launched the careers of a thousand Asian Americans over a decade ago) has been tapped to do a 3D remake of the film that similarly launched Jet Li’s career, The Shaolin Temple.
According to Deadline, the plan is to bring in an “A-list Hollywood” writer for the script and work with a budget over $100 million. Pretty ambitious for a Mandarin-language kung fu flick, but it seems the target audience is in Mainland China as much as it is the rest of the world.
“The aim is to make an unprecedented Chinese-based tentpole with story, style and scope that will resonate with global audiences as well,” [Perfect Storm Entertainment CEO Troy Craig] Poon says.
It’s no secret that we love martial arts films here at The Nerds of Color. But I couldn’t think of two Nerds who love the genre more than Raymond and Shawn S. So I asked them what they thought of Justin Lin bringing his talents to The Shaolin Temple.
Raymond: Big old box o’ meh. That movie is more famous than it is good, to be honest. As far as a remake, let’s wait and see what is meant by remake first. I’m fine with the Wulin Shaolin as a setting, but it’s hard to find a reason to tell this particular story again. And certainly not in 3D.
Shawn: To elaborate further on Ray’s sentiments, The Shaolin Temple was about as bare-bones as martial arts movies get. The story is classic “David v. Goliath, one man v. evil empire” fare with a Shaolin training backdrop that was damn near obligatory throughout the late ’70s and early ’80s. What made The Shaolin Temple so great, however, was the fact that the only real visual eye candy was Jet Li himself. The Shaolin Temple was pretty much a showcase for a very young Jet who not long before filming was still competing in wushu competitions. The athleticism and energy honed from competing at such a high level a few short years before starring in The Shaolin Temple was vividly apparent as Jet simply dominated every fight scene.
So, not only is it hard to imagine/justify rebooting this story/movie, it also seems like a colossal waste of money and tech given that the best thing about the movie is the one thing you cannot re-render in 3D: a young, fast, and fluid Jet Li [ed. note: so disappointed you didn’t go with “furious” instead of “fluid” there… K.C.], but whatev — let Lin make the damn movie.
Raymond: Right, it’s a special movie in that a star is born and it being the first Hong Kong produced movie filmed on the mainland. Both really important points but neither of which really go far enough in making it a great movie. In fact, I’d argue that because it’s so completely centered on showcasing Jet that the fights are less interesting. There’s no tension and the dude’s just doing wushu forms right onto people’s faces.
Shawn: And frankly, there are even other works in his filmography (ahem — The One, Black Mask) that would be more logical for a 3D remake.