On March 21, 2015 Ain’t it Cool dropped the mother, father, cousin, and incarcerated uncle of all bombshells: Brett Ratner wants to remake one of the most iconic films in cinema history, which starred one of the most iconic leading mean in the history of film. To even have the gauldacity to fix your imagination to entertain the idea is Greek tragedy level hubris. How could he even think that he has the talent, vision, heart, and narrative ability to remake Enter the Dragon? Who in our modern cinematic landscape has the charisma, charm, physique, sex appeal, and martial talent to even mimic Bruce Lee? I assure you neither Scott Adkins nor Ronda Rousey have it. No diss to them, but, no.
Whandom (white online fandom — the antithesis of Black Twitter) offers Adkins and Rousey up as cinematic sacrificial lambs whenever a film role calls for an ass-kicker with martial arts ability. No diss to either one, but they never had to carry a film. I would argue that they don’t have the history or broad enough shoulders to carry this film, even though it is a remake.
I love Scott Adkins. He is actually more compelling on screen than Jason Statham, both in personality and physicality. Check him and Jean Claude Van Damme in Assassination Games. It is a surprisingly decent B film and Adkins shows tons of potential. But as a replacement for Bruce Lee? In French: Non. In Spanish: No. In English: No. In Arabic: La.
Rousey is a beast. She is one of the best fighters of her generation, and one of the best fighters to watch. But when you see her being interviewed outside of the octagon, there is a nervousness and discomfort that does her zero justice.
White Netizens, just leave it alone. 2015 is all about not whitewashing everything that comes down the film pike. Folks immediately offer white folks as replacements for people of color, but then lose their collective cyber-shit when it is suggested that the reverse happen. Where was your privileged outrage at: The Last Airbender, 30 Days of Night, 21, Wanted or any of a host of other films? I understand that your cultural influence and relevance is waning and that many people are approaching genre entertainment with an eye towards accurately representing how the world actually looks and operates, and refusing to allow whiteness and maleness to continue to be the default. Have the good grace an honor to go quietly into the night. If you expect the world to accept your stories and presence as objective truth, have the decency to do the same when you are no longer at the center. But let me get back to the topic on the floor.
First off, if we’re looking at goals scored, Ratner is hovering at around 0.5. While his films have made money, he has yet to make a decent film.
Whenever I see any of his films, especially X-Men: The Last Stand, I feel a little of my geek soul wither and flake off. It is the slowest of deaths. It is kind of like having to walk to school, in a blizzard, wearing only an A-shirt and flip-flops. Why in the name of all that is holy is this happening to me?
Ratner should be forced to sit through years of storytelling and continuity school, and then given the chance to direct another film. He may be a nice guy, and I don’t want to crap on him, but the ego to talent ratio of his films is sorely unbalanced.
Now we come to the meat of the matter: You have no other ideas, other than remake a film that is borderline immune to being remade? I get it. Hollywood is all about the money, and what is more bankable than the familiar? Brand recognition is the highest form of currency in Hollywood. But this doesn’t negate the fact that all these remakes are wearing thin. Nostalgia is one of the worst things in any kind of fandom, as it stifles creativity and forward movement. Geeks and Nerds hold onto their feelings for the objects of their fandom and will not let go until forced to do so.
Now that folks who grew up on a steady diet of horror, superheroes, and martial arts flicks are in positions to make culture, they masturbate in their cultural echo chamber until their nostalgic concoctions gum up our screens. Just let it go. Comics are the bastion of nostalgia. Grant Morrison called them cave paintings that writers and artists touch up from time to time. But film should be risky, dynamic, and above all, creative. Remaking Enter the Dragon is none of these things.
Despite Dragon being an American and Hong Kong co-production, it is a Hong Kong film. There is a sensibility that stemmed from Bruce Lee’s experience of being a Chinese man bumping up against nascent multiculturalism, while still maintaining his history, martial, and spiritual practices. It is a fixed point in time, and frankly wouldn’t work too well in the 21st Century as there have already been too many pretenders to the throne. If you wanted to do the film justice, with a white lead, remove all traces of Asian, Asian American, Chinese, and Hong Kong sensibilities and make it Enter the Unicorn:
London based Scott Adkins is tasked to go undercover in a bare-knuckle fighting competition where he beats the crap out of the Irish and the Welsh. His allies are a Jamaican yardie named Neville, and an American fratboy named Chad. Hell, I’d pay to see that.
To summarize: Leave Enter the Dragon alone. And if it does get remade, keep the lead Asian.
Let’s not feed into the mewling maw of whandom. And do not let Brett Ratner anywhere near it. Not even at the premiere.
In other words, Mr. Ratner: