It seems that Bob and Harvey Weinstein have a love-hate relationship with Hong Kong action and wuxia films. In interviews they talk about their love of the genres and that they want to bring these films to US audiences. And the pair, first through their original company Miramax and now through the Weinstein Company, have acquired numerous films ranging from highlights from the legendary Shaw Brothers Studio library to the early work of Jackie Chan, John Woo, Tsu Hark and others. But for fans waiting for proper releases of these films, it has been a long wait. The films would typically sit on a shelf for a period of time before a release that typically saw the films edited down and poorly dubbed into English before barely hitting theater screens. (See the treatment that Stephen Chow’s brilliant Shaolin Soccer went through on its road to audiences.) And while their treatment of Hong Kong films has gotten better with their Dragon Dynasty home video release label, a bad taste does remain with fans.
The Weinsteins are now looking to leverage the films that they have acquired in a new way, announcing that remakes of two Shaw Brothers classics – director King Hu’s 1966’s Come Drink With Me and director Sun Chung’s 1978’s The Avenging Eagle. Both films will be written by John Fusco, who is already working on the script for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II: The Green Destiny for the Weinsteins. The reported aim is to film the two projects back to back sometime next year. The films are being produced in conjunction with Celestial Pictures, the current owners of the Shaw Brothers library.
This isn’t the first time that the Weinstein’s have wanted to remake Come Drink With Me, a rare breed of wuxia film in that starred a female actress as its lead hero. In this case it was Pei-Pei Chang, who would go on to play the villain Jade Fox in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The film is considered one of the best that Shaw Brothers ever released and was Hong Kong’s submission to the Best Foreign Language Film category of the Academy Awards in 1967. The Weinsteins announced a possible remake in 2007 with none other than Quentin Tarantino, though it is doubtful that he is still attached to the project.
My own leeriness over the Weinsteins’ involvement in this is somewhat tempered by the fact that they are partnered with Celestial, who have been doing a great job in their management of the Shaw Brothers material they control. The restoration work done on the some 700 films, both wuxia and non-genre movies that the Shaws produced, that were released on DVD outside of the US was nothing short of phenomenal. As long as they have a strong say in the process, I don’t think there will be too much to worry about.
Here are trailers for both the original Come Drink With Me and The Avenging Eagle from Celestial’s own YouTube channel.