The Re-Cast Nightmare

A look at some movies that carried on without the favourite lead
March 12, 2008
Nowadays most of us are used to seeing movie sequels, prequels and reboots that we don't really care any more who's going to be the lead actor/main character but when I was young, a time when the internet was just one of those things I used hear about, few celeb-gossip shows to watch and straight-to-DVD releases were unheard of, it was strange for me to see a new face to popular franchise I enjoyed so much.

My point is, when you think of John McClane, you immediately know Die Hard, when you think of Halloween, you think Michael Myers and so on.

While for some movies its OK for character changes/recasts, for others it seemed like a crime. Like some of my favourites here:

Predator (with Arnold Schwarzenegger as Maj. Dutch Schaefer)

The story follows a group of Special Forces coming to a Central American country to rescue hostages from guerrillas, only to be hunted by the extraterrestrial "Predator".

Memorable quote: "You are one ugly motherf**ker" - Maj. Dutch

Undeniably one of the greatest action sci-fi flicks ever made. I mean, who could forget the spooky Infra-red POV, the time when the predator first took off its mask revealing its face as well as the invisible cloaking camouflage, which at the time were worthy of being Oscar Nominated for visual FX.

This movie would no doubt spawn a sequel which all of us would forward to so that we could see Dutch kick some more Predator-ass....... and it came!

Predator 2 (with Danny Glover as Lt. Michael Harrigan)

Hey! What's that guy from Lethal Weapon doing in this movie?

The Predator has returned to Earth and this time it finds itself in Los Angeles in the year 1997 and starts murdering people. However the people killed are armed gangs which lead to Lt. Harrigan concluding there's a new "player" in town.

He starts investigating and later learns he's dealing with something much more dangerous than anything he's ever faced.

As kid I asked "OK its 15minutes into the movie, when is Schwarzenegger going to show up?", My elder brother hands me the video cassette cover and says "Where does it say he is among the cast?" and I'm like (despite not knowing how his name was spelt) "I don't see his name" and my brother says "That's right, coz he's NOT in this movie, now be quiet!" (*Horror movie scream*)

It turns out that Arnold Schwarzenegger had already signed up to do Total Recall & T2: Judgment Day and had to decline this one. Therefore his character was re-written as Special Agent Peter Keyes (played by Gary Busey) and it was also rumoured that Arnie didn't like the idea of the Predator in the city.

This movie was kind of OK at the time though it didn't have that gritty-dark feel like the first one. But compared to those Alien Vs Predator no-brainers, I'll watch this one any day.

Memorable quote: "Don't worry a**hole. You'll get another chance...." - Lt. Harrigan

Speed (with Keanu Reeves as Jack Traven)

Its about police officer Jack Traven who tries to arrest an insane bomber/extortionist. After the bomber escapes, he sets up a bomb on a city bus which Traven boards and must keep moving above 50 mph or the bomb will explode.

Another great adrenaline fuelled action-packed classic with an excellent concept. Just from the title and poster (as well as the trailer), I knew that this movie wouldn't disappoint.

I think this was the first time I knew Keanu Reeves whose performance was outstanding and I had a feeling there wont be a sequel because I couldn't see how they could have made this movie any better. The bus making that awesome jump will forever be my favourite scene.

In the end, the day was saved, the bad guy died in a "there's-no-way-he-is-coming-back" manner and our hero got to make out with the girl, Annie (Sandra Bullock) and "lived happily ever after"........ that's what I thought.

Speed 2: Cruise Control (with Jason Patric as Alex Shaw)

Huh!? I know Sandra Bullock but who's this guy?

Annie Porter (Sandra Bullock) is thrilled when her boyfriend Alex Shaw (Jason Patric) surprises her with two tickets for a cruise to the Bahamas. What the couple do not realize is that the disgruntled John Geiger (Willem Dafoe), the person who created the software that operates the ship's computer systems, has plotted a violent takeover of the vessel and a diamond hijacking that puts everyone on board in mortal danger.

Like most people I asked, "what happen to Keanu, did they forget to tell him there's a sequel and he should be in it?", "And the title of this movie is Speed, and the vehicle of choice is........ a boat!?", "Like, couldn't they have called this movie something else!?"
Then I paid attention to the sub-title......"Cruise Control" (OH!....sorry, my bad)

This movie never had the same feel of tension and suspense like the first one (maybe coz of the new guy). Despite some nice action sequences, this movie felt like a rushed-desperate project which was begging to be released just for the sake of being released.

It turns out Keanu Reeves turned down the role describing it overbearing (whatever that meant) and the director Jan de Bont had goofed up big time, because his initial idea was to stage the action on a train, unfortunately the Steven Seagal movie Under Siege 2: Dark Territory already used that concept, so Jan de Bont chose a boat, which was the concept to the third Die Hard movie, so the makers of Die Hard took Vengence (get it? but unfortunately on the wrong guys) and used the concept which was supposed to be used in the fourth Lethal Weapon installment leaving the makers of Lethal Weapon with no concept to work with....... however, it seemed they weren't bothered and still went ahead (Err,..... that's just me thinking aloud no offence intended).

The Karate Kid (1 - 3 with Ralph Macchio)

AT LAST! A hero we kids (back then) could really look up to and call our very own!

In the first movie, we meet Daniel, a boy whose moved to Los Angeles from New Jersy and has a tough time fitting in and is later taught karate by Mr. Miyagi after he gets beat up by some guys, who he later takes on at a Karate Tournament.

In the second movie, Mr. Miyagi travels to Japan to see his dying father and Daniel tags along. Upon arrival, Mr. Miyagi meets an old love interest as well as an old adversary. But the movie's climax is when Daniel goes one on one with the kid of Mr. Miyagi's adversary. This time its not a game, he's fighting for his life.
In the third movie, the evil instructor from the first movie is back and wants revenge and Daniel is once again challenged into a tournament and this time Mr. Miyagi is hesitant to train him.

The first two movies were good because of the underdog story (kinda like Rocky) and the mild romantic story, respectively. The third one....well, was kind of pointless.

The first two at least reached Oscar fame; Karate Kid had the late Noriyuki "Pat" Morita nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Karate Kid II won for Best Song from a Film i.e. Peter Cetera's Glory of Love (aww you know, the one that goes; I am a man who will fight for your-honor...I'll be the hero-you've been dreaming of.....OK, OK...I'll stop it!)

The Next Karate Kid (with Hillary Swank as Julie Pierce)

Umm... Daniel's sister..?...or cousin?........ Mr. Miyagi's long lost daughter!?

Mr. Miyagi travels to Boston for a WWII ceremony and meets his Commanding Officer's widow who is now looking after her rebellious grand-daughter and is barely coping. Mr. Miyagi then offers his help and also teaches her karate.

This movie, didn't do it for me because it was a karate movie with virtually NO KARATE!! By that I mean there were no memorable fight scenes like the famous Crane-Kick etched in our heads whenever we think of the Karate Kid, and who IS this broad! Its not like she's famous, ( she?) DANIEL, WHERE ART THOU DANIEL?!!... Wow, speaks like that nowadays?

Anyway, Karate Kid III was supposedly taking place 6 months after Karate Kid II. In reality part III of the movie was made 3 years after the second i.e. 1986-89.

That's right, Ralph Macchio was pushing 30 and still playing a teenager. The only one who managed to fool me back then was Michael J. Fox in Back To The Future but no, not Ralph who was actually 23 when he first starred in Karate Kid in 1984.

So, ten years later I guess it was only right he couldn't be called the Karate "Kid". So naturally Hillary Swank took over the title role at age 19 at the time, hence the NEXT karate kid, then it all made sense.

But I was still hurt because Daniel wasn't even mentioned (even a cameo would have been OK). And how could the writers overlook this possible goof; Mr. Miyagi mentions in this movie that Julie's grand-father was his first student but told Daniel same thing in the first movie. I'm sure on the DVD release this was probably corrected

Mortal Kombat (1 & 2)

After watching the disappointing Street Fighter flick, which made me hate movies based on video games, I was looking forward to the MK movie hoping for some "redemption". This movie was kind of alright thanks mainly to the interesting visual FX of the time, but I guess I expected a little too much but definitely knew the sequel (because of the way the movie ended) would make up for it.

In case some of you forgot the main heroes were Liu Kang, (avenging his brother's death at the hands of Shang Tsung), Sonya (on a mission to capture Kano) Johnny Cage (to prove that he's more than just a movie-actor) and Raiden (well.... giving advice or something like that and doing a lot intense staring)

Then MK: Annhilation came out picking up from where the first one left off, we are then introduced to Shao Khan and his minions i.e Sheeva, Motaro, Baraka, Ermac, Rain, etc and yells out at our heroes (blah, blah, blah) then Raiden leaps to meet him for a face-to-face personal confrontation and then my first reaction was "HEY, WHAT THE #@%!!" and I immediately knew I wasn't going to enjoy this movie.

I'm sure some of you are asking "Dude, why did you flip out?". Well, for starters how did Raiden go from this:

To this......

(That's not Christopher Lambert in case you're wondering)

And it got worse.......much, worse:

Shao Khan then starts fighting with Raiden and is briefly defeated because in the Earth realm Raiden is more powerful than Shao Khan. So in a bit of hissy-fit/cheap shot, he grabs Sonya and holds her hostage and orders Raiden to bow down to him or something like that. Then Johnny Cage tries to be the hero and is killed by Shao Khan and releases Sonya who cries her head off when she sees Johnny dead. Shao Kahn leaves to create havoc and the adventure begins.

It wasn't only Raiden, first played by Christopher Lambert, replaced by James Remar it was nearly everyone! Sandra Hess replaced Bridgette Wilson as Sonya; Linden Ashby was replaced by Chris Conrad as the new Johnny Cage even though it was a small part; and Lynn Williams replaced Gregory Mckinney as Jax (remember the dude who was telling Sonya "don't get on that ship").

That only left Robin Shou (Liu Kang ) and Talisa Soto (Kitana) as the returning cast. The only other actor to return was Keith Cooke who portrayed Reptile in the first film, recast as the new Sub-Zero. The part of Mileena was performed by Dana Hee, Talisa Soto's stunt double from the previous film.

Anyway, I'm now used to seeing new faces and longer whine like I used to (...well, sometimes)

Oh and maybe an honourary mention:

xXx (with Vin Diesel as Xander Cage)

I was really warming up to this guy but they just had to kill him off with no clear explanation.

xXx 2: The Next Level (with Ice Cube as Darius Stone)

This movie... well, let's just say....(*sigh*) "Guilty Pleasure". I wouldn't be suprised if the new agent is a chick....... Or would I?

Hope you enjoyed this and tell me what you think.
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