And today brings us to a different country, but same movie! Well, sort of…
The fifth film in the challenge is The Witness, a Chinese remake of the Korean thriller Blind, which I watched and reviewed yesterday. While I had known about this remake from some time ago, I didn’t think of watching it until it showed up in my YouTube suggestions today. I thought it would be interesting to compare this remake with the original while the original was still fresh in my mind, so I ended up watching The Witness for today’s post.
The premise for The Witness is the same as Blind – a female cop (Yang Mi) loses her sight and job in a tragic accident and becomes a witness in a hit-and-run that is linked to a bigger crime. A teenage boy (Luhan) also comes forth as a witness but makes statements contradictory to what the female protagonist says. The two of them find themselves in great danger as the culprit realizes they are both on his trail, and he sets out to silence them.
While the basic plot was the same for both the Chinese and Korean versions of the film, there were some noticeable differences in the movies. The first was obviously the cast. I was honestly disappointed with the casting of Yang Mi as the female lead in The Witness because she doesn’t exude her character’s tough persona. I thought the Korean casting of Kim Ha Neul suited the character better. There were definitely moments in The Witness where I thought Yang Mi looked too kind and delicate for the role, and I think casting an actress like Vicky Zhao would have been a better choice. Luhan, on the other hand, played his role of the teenage boy quite well, and I was quite surprised by his acting ability since this is only his third film.
In terms of plot details (spoilers will appear in the next three paragraphs), The Witness resolved one of my main grievances against Blind, which was explaining why the culprit committed the crimes he did. This explanation made the film much more satisfying and creepier because it was scary to understand just how psychopathic the villain was. Overall, I think the villain was more well developed in The Witness because his motivations and method of operations are made clear and unique, which made the rest of the movie and how he is caught more exciting, logical, and believable.
I also liked how The Witness made a dating app an integral part of the plot. Not only did it clearly explain the villain’s motivation for the crimes, but it also logically explained how he was able to execute his heinous acts. In addition, the use of this app made the film feel much more modern and relevant to today’s society, since digital apps, dating ones in particular, are on the rise. But after watching The Witness, I wouldn’t be surprised if some people decide to never ever use a dating app.
Stylistically speaking, the cinematography for both The Witness and Blind were very similar. This isn’t surprising, considering how the same Korean director directed both films. A lot of the action sequences had the same stunts, such as the final showdown between the villain and the blind woman and teenage boy. The only change in those action sequences was location. Since I had already watched Blind before, seeing those action scenes acted in the same exact way in The Witness bored me a little.
Personally, I found The Witness to be more satisfying than Blind in terms of plot, but I liked the casting in Blind more. I also do wish that The Witness could have been more original in some scenes instead of carbon copying both the cinematography and dialogue from Blind. I understand it’s a remake, so there will be similarities, but you can only have so many similarities before the audience gets bored.
I don’t know which version I would prefer. Both the Chinese and Korean versions have their pluses and minuses, although The Witness is at a slight disadvantage because I had watched Blind first, so I know what’s supposed to happen, which makes The Witness seem less fresh and original as Blind. Maybe I’ll have to watch them again in the future before I make a final decision, but for now, I’m giving The Witness a 3.5 out of 5 stars because the plot was more solid and satisfying than Blind, but everything else felt pretty much the same.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Title: The Witness
Director: Ahn Sang Hoon
Writers: Xiaobai Gu (adapted screenplay), Andy Yoon (adapted screenplay), Ahn Sang Hoon (adapted screenplay)
Cast: Yang Mi, Luhan
Run Time: 1 hr 52 min