September 6th, 2005


Last night I saw Initial D, the Hong Kong street racing action film based on the famed Japanese manga/videogame; this film version, directed by the Infernal Affairs team of Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, was a smash hit throughout Asia. And deservedly so - it's immensely entertaining, very exciting, and beautifully made. It also doesn't have a prayer of ever being seen in this country, as either an import or a remake, and here's why:

No violence. WHAT?!! An action film with no violence?! WTF?! That's right, there are no fistfights, gun battles or wire-rigged martial arts displays. There's one car that wipes out rather spectacularly (although the driver walks away from the accident), one scene of a father beating on his son, and one completely off-camera punch between two friends. The film's excitement is generated by the racing.

No explosions. Even the one amazing accident does not magically lead to an exploding car.

No sex. There is a teen romance, but it's never entirely comfortable for Takumi, our young hero, and involves nothing more than one brief kiss. The plot does involve one extremely icky affair taking place offscreen, but we never see more than one quick shot of the participants in a hotel room, already clothed.

The hero doesn't get the girl at the end. Very simply, Takumi realizes what's really important to him at the end, and unfortunately (for her, anyway) the girl ain't it.

Almost everyone in this movie likes each other. The racers (with one exception, a supporting character who gets his quickly) all respect each other and admire each others' skills. Even though Takumi's father is depicted as abusing him, we're also shown a deep bond between them, a bond that deepens as Takumi comes to accept his destiny as a racer.

The drunk doesn't reform at the end. Takumi's father (brilliantly played by The World's Greatest Actor, Anthony Wong) is an unrepentant drunk and stoner. By the end of the film he's still an unrepentant drunk and stoner.

No ticking clock, no B story, and no something-bigger-at-stake. Yep, Takumi doesn't have to make it somewhere by exactly 3:02 a.m., he's not being forced to run drugs for the local Yakuza, and the town's not going to blow up if he doesn't race. The film's conflict derives from a very Asian notion, although it's not expressly stated in Initial D: Will Takumi accept his destiny as a racer? We know from the beginning of the film that he can beat anyone he takes on; the question is whether he will decide to or not.

It would be interesting to see how Initial D would fare in this country, if anyone had the guts to release it/remake it as is. Have 30 years of bad formulaic filmmaking brainwashed audiences into Hollywoodthink? Or would Americans embrace a film that didn't play by those same old tired rules? My rational side tells me the former is sadly the case, but I'm still going to pretend that the latter could really be true.


Just found out today that the same literary genius who raped oops, I mean rewrote both Blood Angels amd Blue Demon is also the one who rewrote Glass Crap. I apologize for having ever thought director Fred Olen Ray was behind that rewrite, although early on I guessed this other marvelously-talented man had fucked-up rewritten all three of my scripts from 2004 (they were all made with the same company, you see). Interesting that although said rapist master filmmaker shares the writing credit on Blue Demon and takes the directing credit on Blood Angels, he gets no credit on Crap. Guess even he knew it was horrible by the time he was done with it.