It's no secret that foreign countries like to steal/borrow/remake movies from Hollywood and cash in from time to time. Pretty much every country that has a film industry has its own "Star Wars." And if you've never heard of the Turkish "E.T.," well, here. Heck, Hollywood borrows from overseas all the time, too. (See: "The Departed," "Oldboy," almost every horror movie of the last ten years.)
But every so often, a foreign country lifts from Hollywood in a way that defies common sense, either by stealing ideas that weren't great to begin with, sticking with elements that don't translate to overseas markets or making changes that are flat-out perplexing. Here are nine oddball remakes of American movies from around the world.
1. Turkey's 'Captain America' (1973)
The thing about Captain America is he's American. He carries a shield that resembles the American flag. His costume is red, white and blue. He loves freedom. He was invented during World War II so his creators could show him doing stuff like punching Hitler. Being American and pandering to American patriotism is pretty much his whole deal. That's why it's so wholly strange that in 1973, Turkey released their own completely unauthorized Captain America movie titled "Three Giant Men." However, considering the movie features Captain America traveling to Istanbul where he and a masked Mexican wrestler defeat a villainous Spider-Man who, according to our friends at Wikipedia, uses "a switchblade and guinea pigs as a form of weaponry," the choice of superhero may be the least perplexing thing about the movie.
2. South Korea's 'Tron' (1983)
When the original "Tron" was released back in 1982, by far the movie's most notable element was its groundbreaking special effects, which, back then, played like an uber-nerd's wet dream and indicated amazing advances in computer graphics technology to come. Upon its release, South Korea shamelessly snatched up "Tron"'s concepts for their animated film "Savior of the Earth," right down to the Pac-Man cameo. In an even more mind-boggling move, the movie was later reedited with two other movies and given the title "Space Thunder Kids." We greatly prefer the "Tron" rip-off's original title, "Computer Nuclear Warship Bombing Operation."
3. India's 'Heartbreakers' (2005)
Remember the 2001 movie "Heartbreakers" starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, Gene Hackman and Sigourney Weaver? Yeah, we don't really, either. Critics and audiences yawned at the throwback con-artist rom-com, and the movie barely broke even at the box office. 12 years later, it's all but forgotten. But for reasons that elude us, India saw the middling film as primed for a Bollywoodized remake, releasing their take, "Bachke Rehna Re Baba," in 2005. The movie ended up underperforming at the Indian box office, too, confirming what we probably could've told the filmmakers from the get-go: remaking successful movies is a better financial strategy than remaking unsuccessful ones.
4. Japan's 'Sideways' (2009)
The bummers of middle age and wine snobbery know no borders, as evidenced by the Japanese remake of "Sideways." However, the adaptation, which starred Oscar nominee Rinko Kikuchi, got little love from the movie's original players, with director Alexander Payne calling the movie "unwatchable." Paul Giamatti was apparently offered a cameo in the movie, because if there's one thing we know about the Japanese, it's that they love them some surprise Giamatti. But he turned the opportunity down ... and oh-so delicately commented that the actor who portrayed him was "a strange little troll." The movie ended up being DOA at the Japanese box office, grossing a grand total of $1.5 million. And no one dies of shock.
5. India's 'Bruce Almighty' (2008)
"Bruce Almighty" was a movie completely tailored to Jim Carrey's comedic talents — not only did he get to make funny faces, but he was given the ability to force other people to make funny faces. He also had a silly catchphrase. The movie cleaned up at the box office, because for a while there, that's what Jim Carrey-led comedies did. Bollywood, being Bollywood, released their own totally unauthorized version in 2008, titled "God Tussi Great Ho." The result? A big ol' flop. It could have been that the comedy felt derivative or uninspired coming from a less talented comedian than Jim Carrey ... or it could have just been God's punishment for letting anyone besides Morgan Freeman play him.
6. India's 'Clueless' (2010)
Technically, "Aisha" is a modern adaptation of Jane Austin's classic novel "Emma" (You know what they say about new ideas in Hollywood ... and Bollywood), but it's clearly spliced from "Clueless"'s Calvin Klein-clad DNA, right down to the clothes-obsessed heroine. Check out the trailer below, which includes fonts lifted right out of the '90s, a shopping spree and even music that sounds vaguely like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Like "Clueless," the movie also largely ignores the issues of class explored in "Emma" ... but "Clueless" did coin this phrase, so all of its faults are immediately forgiven.
7. India's 'I Am Sam' (2011)
"I Am Sam" is a tough watch — not so much due to its cloying, tear-jerky aim, but because the movie kind of ickily uses Sean Penn's character's disability to drum up misplaced courtroom sympathy and some uncomfortable attempts at humor. So when Kollywood (that's India's Tamil film industry, to save you a Google search) released the trailer below for the "I Am Sam"-inspired "God's Own Child," caustic Internet meme-makers salivated in anticipation of what would surely end up being one of the worst/most unintentionally hilarious movies of all time. And considering the trailer features hand puppets, epic "300"-style battle scenes and a dinosaur chasing people down the road, you can't really blame them. Surprisingly, so far as we can tell, the movie actually ended up scoring big with audiences and critics. Maybe it had something to do with this jam. Or how unfathomably good-looking Michelle Pfeiffer's Southeast Asian counterpart turned out to be.
8. India's 'What Happens in Vegas' (2012)
Indian director Karan Johar has repeatedly gone out of his way to deny that his 2012 film "Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu" is in any way similar to Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz's nearly LOL-less 2008 hijinks-athon "What Happens in Vegas." You know, despite the fact that his movie hinges on two mismatched strangers getting hitched after too many drinks in Vegas and later attempting to get their marriage annulled but soon finding that feelings are inevitably getting in the way. However, "Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu" is apparently a much more subtle and tender rom-com, with standout performances from the two leads — so even if it is a slight pilfering, it's at least a step up. So kudos on making lemonade out of lemons with this one, Bollywood.
9. India's 'My Cousin Vinny' (2014)
Everyone likes "My Cousin Vinny." Joe Pesci is a fish hilariously out of water as a bumbling New Yorker lawyer in rural Alabama. Marisa Tomei is his disproportionally cute and equally out-of-place girlfriend. Fred Gwynne is the judge who's not interested in putting up with their city-slicking bulls**t. Ralph Macchio and his buddy are the guys facing the prospect of the electric chair for a cold-blooded murder they didn't commit. A good time is had by all.
Still, it's an odd choice for a Bollywood ripoff, considering almost all of the movie's humor has to do with Joe Pesci and Marisa Tomei being borderline offensive Italian-American stereotypes coming into contact with a borderline offensive portrait of the American South. But nonetheless, India has long had their own "My Cousin Vinny" in the pipe. The movie, called "Banda Yeh Bindaas Hai," has been delayed for years after 20th Century Fox decided they weren't cool with Bollywood blatantly ripping them off and not ponying up cash money. The lawsuit has been settled, and the movie is due out in 2014. Oh, and because it's a Bollywood production, it will probably be a musical. So, there's that, too.