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TOKYO – Buzz is growing around the Japanese remake of Unforgiven, starring Ken Watanabe in the Clint Eastwood role, following the release of a trailer and new posters for the Lee Sang-Il-directed samurai reinterpretation of the Oscar-winning western.
Reaction to the footage has been overwhelmingly positive, with favorable comparisons to the original, including some impressive-looking cinematography showing spectacular scenery from Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, where the story has been transported.
The switch to northern Japan and some samurai swordplay notwithstanding, the new version of Yurusarezaru Mono (A Thing That Can’t Be Forgiven) — the same Japanese title used for the 1992 original — looks to be a fairly faithful interpretation, replete with horseback shootouts.
Warner Bros. Japan, which is behind the project, hasn’t announced the budget, but judging by the trailer, the production values look distinctly higher than those for most domestic features.
William Ireton, head of Warner Bros. Japan, reportedly joked with director Lee, who conceived and scripted the project, that the film needs to bring in “a few billion yen [tens of millions of dollars] at the box office or I’ll get fired.” While Ireton’s job is unlikely to be on the line, given his impressive track record heading Warner in Japan since 1998, the studio clearly has high hopes that Unforgiven will continue the strong showing for its local productions in recent years.
Ruroni Kenshin, the Warner-produced samurai manga adaptation released last summer, pulled in over $30 million (3 billion yen) in Japan, and two sequels were announced this month.
Unforgiven is due for a Sept. 13 release in Japan and has been submitted for this year’s Venice Film Festival.
Watch the trailer below.
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