In 2017 Shin'ichirô Ueda gave the World the spectacular One Cut of the Dead. Its unique blend of humour and surprise made it an instant success on the festival circuit. Now, five years later comes a French language remake, Final Cut.
Adapted and directed by Academy Award winning director Michel Hazanavicius, Final Cut has a high calibre of talent behind it and seeks the impossible, to recapture lightning in a bottle. One Cut of the Dead worked so well because it had a secret. Once revealed, the magic can never be replicated, and so viewers familiar with the original will struggle to find the same spark here. The uninitiated however, will be as awestruck as those audiences of the first film; Hazanavicius' film is almost a shot-for-shot carbon copy of One Cut of the Dead.
Another highlight of One Cut of the Dead is its technical prowess. It opened with almost forty minutes of one continuous take as a group of filmmakers began work on creating a zombie film. Hazanavicius also opens with his version of the long take. It's as masterful as its source material, paying a great amount of respect, nailing every minute detail. What is strange though, is the decision to keep the original character names the same. It being a French production, the cast are European and it's jarring listening to them all address each other by Japanese names. This issue is raised during Final Cut, and is explained away as the characters are shooting a remake of the film from within One Cut of the Dead.
Clocking in at just under the two hour mark, Hazanavicius' film is a good twenty minutes longer than its predecessor. With so much emphasis on manifesting an identical movie, the disparity between their respective run times is confusing. Hazanavicius does pad out the middle section more by bringing in conversations about the very thing he is doing – remaking a foreign language film. The scenes offer important discourse and allow Final Cut to explain to the audience why it has been created. That being said, the viewer feels every extra minute; the punchy pace of the original is lost.
Anyone yet to experience One Cut of the Dead will view Final Cut differently to those that have. One Cut of the Dead contained such a clever trick that, such as Pandora's Box, once opened, it can't be put back again. First time viewers will get a kick out of experiencing that moment here, but Final Cut is not a perfect replacement. The Japanese film was heart-warming, charming, and fun. Try as he may, Hazanavicius' attempt comes across slightly more poe-faced and serious. It's a valiant creation and by no means the worst remake in the world. The problem the film has is that by sticking so close to the original, its reason for existing becomes unclear. With such a faithful adaptation there are two almost identical films in existence, and when one of them is as magic as One Cut of the Dead, any attempt to replicate will feel inferior.
Signature Entertainment presents Final Cut on Digital Platforms 7th November.