Maybe “remake” isn’t the most accurate term (most of these are unauthorized adaptations with only faint similarities to whatever they’re aping), but you get it. The limited enforceability of copyright in international law has permitted the creation of some nutty, nutty “homages.” Most are knock-offs and others are somehow officially sanctioned. All are delightfully insane. For proof of how “remix culture” has actually worked over the decades, and all throughout the world, simply scroll down. We dare you.
Soviet Russia’s The Hobbit
1985: the slow dissolution of the USSR had only just begun. With glasnost and its relaxation of censorship came Western rock ‘n roll… and The Fabulous Journey of Mr. Bilbo Baggins the Hobbit. In contrast to that nine-hour film trilogy, Leningrad TV’s adaptation omits plenty of characters and scenes. No Beorn. No Elrond. No trolls. Just goblins played by ballerinas, and less-than-charming Spider puppets. Oh, and if you’re wondering, that old man at the cafe is a bootleg of Tolkien himself.
Turkey’s Captain America
Cap and legendary luchador/superhero, Santo, have never formally allied. But if they ever were to, they’d might as well team up to beat the tar out of Spider-Man. What foe would be more appropriate, honestly? This Spidey prefers a switchblade and gun to any web-shooters, though, and he runs an organized crime syndicate in Istanbul whose main racket is counterfeiting American currency. It’s doubtful that the creators of 3 Dev Adam (“Three Giant Men” in Turkish) had much self-awareness, but we can at least hope they grasped the irony of that last detail.
Look closely at the credits. This show was, indeed, officially licensed by Marvel Entertainment. That doesn’t make it any less weird, of course. Toei figured the wall-crawler needed finessing to play with Japanese kids, so they turned Peter Parker into a motocross rider who gained his powers after discovering an alien ship that’d crashed from Planet Spider. That ship, the Marveler (get it?), could transform into a giant mech, Leopardon. Hence the robot at the end of the intro.
Fun fact: Toei owns the Super Sentai franchise Power Rangers is derived from. Not only did their Zord gimmick start here, the Rangers’ hand gestures probably riffed a bit on Spidey’s Ditko-esque poses.
India’s Fight Club
We can only speculate how the creative process goes for such knock-offs. Still, it’s easy to imagine this one starting with a frustrated Indian movie-goer feeling like Fincher’s satirical opus teased a premise it simply didn’t deliver on. Now, believe it or not, this trailer is a misrepresentation. Why’s that? Well, it doesn’t even hint at the myriad dance numbers in the actual film. Because, of course, they’re there. You simply can’t have tough guys this pretty and not get them on the dance floor. It’s Bollywood.
This flick has no less than four alternate names, depending on the territory, and it can’t even keep them straight in a single trailer! Call it Shocking Dark, if you prefer. It was released as Terminator II before the real T2 even began production; with an eerily-familiar poster that had little to do with the actual plot. Would it fool you at the tape store? In actuality, the movie covers most of James Cameron’s ouvre up until then, offering a plot largely modeled off Aliens. So, Terminator + Aliens = the Alienators?
Mexico’s Santa Claus
Kris Kringle isn’t a character owned by any company (except Coca Cola, maybe), so who’s to say this flick gets anything wrong about him? It’s not like there’s a Santa Sourcebook. All the same, if you’ve ever left milk and cookies out on Christmas Eve, it’s doubtful you intended them for a superhero who rides creepy robots and presides over a junior U.N. in an outer space fortress. That Santa eats clouds and battles demons for the hearts and minds of children.
Hong Kong’s Future Cops
The trailer doesn’t make it entirely clear, but those Future Cops on flying scooters are meant to be Vega, Guile, Dhalsim and Ryu from Street Fighter. Somehow. If you can’t follow that train of logic, don’t fret. The train takes even more spectacular leaps when Future Cops swings from post-apocalyptic thriller to cheeky high school comedy with little duress. One of the characters also turns into Goku from DBZ. Somehow. And since several cast members moonlight as pop singers, musical numbers are fit in throughout, as well. Somehow.
Have we neglected any diamonds in the rough? What other unauthorized, lost-in-translation foreign remakes deserve our love and affection? Stuff the talkback with suggestions!
Featured Image Credit: Flora Film