In this weekly column, Reel Retake, we compare the original film and its remake. Beyond highlighting the similarities, differences and measuring them on the success scale, we aim to discover the potential in the storyline that spurred the thought for a newer version and the ways in which a remake could possibly offer a different viewing experience. And if that is the case, analyse the film.
In focus this week is South Korean film The Outlaws and its Hindi adaptation Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai.
What is The Outlaws about?
Seoul city is festering with crime. Gangsters have taken control. Peace is threatened and locals are afraid to put up shop fearing rampant violence and extortion. Veteran and hardened police officer Ma Seok-do (Don Lee) is tasked with a clean up operation.
Meanwhile, a gang of three vicious criminals have entered the city to collect an outstanding debt. But their aim is to gain territorial control and weed out local gangs. They accomplish this through gruesome means and brutally punish anyone trying to put up a fight. You’ll look away seeing them exact revenge.
The outsiders pose a bigger threat to Seok-do’s duty and life. They are slippery, cunning and violent. Will Seok-do’s operation to subdue gang wars be a failure or will peace prevail? Will Seok-do die or survive?
Wherein lies the potential?
The Outlaws is a crime action film with a few funny moments spattered in. A typical genre outing, which has been a success formula at the Korean box office for years. Don Lee’s performance as veteran officer Seok-do stands out. He has been meeting the eyes of the criminals for far too long and it shows in the way he deals with them. In the opening scene itself, Seok-do is introduced with a camera angle below the eye-level as he confidently walks in, a phone line active and casually breaks off an escalating street fight. Don Lee’s performance constantly moves between entertaining and serious, lending an overall appeal to his anti-hero character, who is both wild and hardcore.
An action film is as good as the villain and The Outlaws has plenty of bad guys. The most evil character though is Yoon Kyesang as Jang Chen. He is menacing not only in presence, but has the courage to do the most gruesome acts with no inhibitions. This makes him unpredictable and dangerous. It is not a typical dark character and Kyesang not only looks the part but also embraces the wickedness in his demeanour. The confrontation scenes are further infused with high drama. The crime picture painted in the film is very real and raw and it rounds off like a solid punch. Its treatment makes The Outlaws immersive where you get drawn in and enjoy the action unfolding right before you. The background score, with build up music and beats, adds to the feel.
Most importantly, in the fight between Seok-do and Jang Chen, The Outlaws does not harass the police officers. Crimes against the force is a reality as they continue to serve and protect with life-threatening risks.
What’s new with Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai?
Radhe: Your Most Wanted Bhai’s plot is based on The Outlaws. Salman Khan revives Don Lee’s role as a special force police officer, and Randeep Hooda plays the vicious Rana. Disha Patani’s character Diya in Radhe proffers a romantic angle in the story and does not exist in the original film. Jackie Shroff as a flamboyant and corrupt senior police officer Avinash is also a new character. He seems parachuted to inspire some funny moments here and there and his chemistry with Salman works in some parts. Arguably, the serious nature of drug menace does not warrant humourous detours, but still, Jackie does justice to the script and his short role.
To call Radhe an Indianised version of The Outlaws seems justified. It wanders off from the source material way too much and far too many times. The realistic treatment of the original is completely sidelined to spotlight Radhe’s ‘saviour complex’ and retain Salman’s on-screen persona as a charismatic police officer, who is unafraid to pull off a one man show when it comes to fighting crime.
Here are five reasons why Radhe fails to measure up to The Outlaws.
— The sincerity in Don’s original performance as an officer of the law is compromised fully in Radhe as the script gets modified for entertainment’s sake. Crime is a pressing issue and The Outlaws deals with it in a serious manner. Radhe is modeled on Salman’s massy cop image which is an unrealistic take on the police force altogether. Since the main character is heavily altered, the rest of the story and treatment has to be adjusted. Nuance then goes missing. There’s no grit in Radhe, rather a cockiness that is irksome to a fault.
— The action sequences aren’t realistic. They are more suited to complement Salman’s larger-than-life image. The high-flying fighting robs the character off any realness, relatability, depth or emotion. The climax scene where Rana and Radhe have a face off has additional CGI woes.
— Randeep as Rana is made out to be caricature-like. He is an over-the-top character sitting comfortably within this phoney universe of criminals and cops. Outside of this world, Rana will not exist. There is no genuine threat that he evokes as an antagonist.
— Everything about the Hindi remake, from the treatment to dialogues, feels like it’s from the past. The Outlaws was slick in pace while Radhe draggs its feet for most of the runtime. There is a lively energy in the Korean film as things progress rapidly. Radhe, simply put, is sluggish.
— Radhe is often digressing from the main story. Cops are after Rana and his gang, but Radhe finds time to flirt, dance and crack suggestive jokes. These distractions do not work in favour of the film which should have stuck to the point for most of the time owing to the sensitive nature of its subject.
The Outlaws is rated 7.2 on IMDb while Radhe was unimpressive on arrival. Most of the reviews were unfavourable with fans calling out to Salman to not rehash the same formula from a decade ago. Yoon-Seong Kang’s direction is tight and packs engagement and thrill. Prabhudeva mostly relies on Salman’s movie star image to justify his altered and unrealistic crime world and brings no style or substance to the table.