'Saigon Bodyguards' for Hollywood remake, why not?

By Kieu Anh   November 20, 2020 | 02:27 am PT
'Saigon Bodyguards' for Hollywood remake, why not?
A still from the film "Saigon Bodyguards".
Acclaimed neither by Vietnamese critics nor by local moviegoers, the choice of "Saigon Bodyguards" for a Hollywood remake has surprised many.

Producer Charlie Nguyen praised "Ve Si Sai Gon" (Saigon Bodyguards) for being fast-paced, straight to the point, highly entertaining and something everyone, even those from different background, can relate to. "Hollywood noticing this one is self-explanatory for its potential. They got inspired by the original script and might continue to get creative from their professional perspectives," he told local media.

Universal Pictures plans to do an English-language remake of the Vietnamese action comedy, starring Chris Pratt and Wu Jing. The screenplay will be rewritten by Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck, who have worked on the hit comedy "What Men Want" and American political satire television series "Veep".

Despite the movie teeming with hot local celebrities, the movie failed to set the stage alight. It received poor reviews from Vietnamese critics and moviegoers for its illogical story line, awkward "un-Vietnamese" dialogues and unconvincing character development. "Saigon Bodyguards" earned a mere VND39 billion ($1.7 million).

However, this unimpressive achievement will now play second fiddle the movie making history for being chosen by a team comprising major Hollywood names.

Nguyen said another possible factor for this remake to achieve success more easily is that it was not positively welcomed in Vietnam because of "the lack of a specific cultural adaptation."

Released in 2016, "Saigon Bodyguards" features two professional bodyguards and long-standing friends, one straightforward and the other a doof, going on a rescue mission to save a rich corporate heir who gets kidnapped right under their noses.

Before this, in 2018, the script for "Co Hau Gai" (The Housemaid) released in 2016, directed by Derek Nguyen, was also bought and rewritten by the American Oscar winning screenwriter, Geoffrey Fletcher. His networking and cooperation with the circle of international producers helped Derek Nguyen and producer Timothy Bui reach out to Fletcher.

Likewise, "Saigon Bodyguards" managed to close this deal thanks to the channel that presented it in the U.S and took it to the Russo Brothers. By actively seeking to expand the level of international exposure for local movies, Vietnamese films can have change like this Saigon Bodyguards business, said industry insiders.

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