Normally, remakes of damn near perfect films, even ones with lots of potential to set in different cultures and time periods, like Kurosawa’s magnificent High and Low are still a tad redundant. But if you told me that Mike Nichols (Closer, The Graduate, Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) was directing a remake from a script by David Mamet under producer Martin Scorsese – well you would have my attention. And that, surprisingly was the case starting as far back as 1999. But screenplays being what they are, ones in development for A DECADE or more, are subject to being re-written all the time. So colour me un-surprised that Chris Rock is going to re-write David Mamet. Still take a moment and consider that. What mirror world are we living in that Rock re-writes Mamet? Rock happened to mention (so says Black Voices On Movies) it while on the press circuit for his latest film, Death At A Funeral (itself a remake with a famous playwright, Neil LaBute, at the helm.)
High and Low (our revisit review during the Kurosawa Centenary) is no stranger to crossing cultures. Kurosawa took it from the American noir novel (“King’s Ransom”) from Ed McBain, and it has a couple of Bollywood remakes, a Chinese remake and even a recent version for Japanese TV. Surprising that nobody in Hollywood has gotten to this sooner, and even more surprising in this current age of slam bang CGI studio pictures that a sharp, thoughtful and wide-scope movie like this can still be made. In all fairness though, Zodiac is only a few years old at this point, and owes likely a huge debt to the original High and Low.
I will be very curious on both the casting of the lead roles (particularly King Gondo) and the city of choice (Chicago? Seattle? Los Angeles?) And yea, with the talent on board, I could warm up to this remake.