Head to Head: The Eye (Remake) and Jessica Alba versus The Eye and Lee Sinje (aka Angelica Lee)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

After seeing the remake of the Pang Brother's film The Eye with Jessica Alba - and being a fan of the original with Lee Sinje (as well as the Pang Brothers) - I thought a head to head competition was in order pitting the two movies, and their stars against each other in a no-holds barred winner take all head to head battle.

Note to readers: This post contains a ton of spoilers.

Now that the spoiler warning is out of the way - let the battle begin.

Jessica Alba versus Lee Sinje

As much as each actress has their own style and substance, comparing the two in this role is a little lopsided.

Lee Sinje won two Best Actress awards for her role in the original film at the Golden Horse Awards and Hong Kong Film Festival, and prior to that in 2001 received the New Talent Award at the Berlin International Film Festival for her role in Ai ni ai wo (Betelnut Beauty) - all of which is to say that while Jessica Alba does a credible job in the remake, she doesn't quite have the acting chops of Lee Sinje - and it shows in the final cut of each film.

Winner: Lee Sinje

Storyline, Characters, and the Ending

Both movies have the same basic plot, and the remake does a good job of keeping the main story arcs from the original - but some of the extra additions it adds - including the ending - all make the U.S. version not as scary - or suspenseful - as the original.

A couple of key differences from the original and the remake:

  • Hospital Stay: In the original, Lee spent a lot more time in the hospital before she went home after her operation - and like a good story should - it helped add to the suspense of the movie and everything that was happening. In the remake, it felt like Alba was rushed out too early after her surgery - she didn't spend enough time in the sterile and washed out colors of the hospital getting adjusted to her new eyes.
  • The Sister: While the sister in the first movie proved to be a little aloof, almost uncaring, in the remake, Parker Posey as the sister seems almost too concerned. Posey plays the dutiful sister, taking Alba back home after her operation, offering to stay with her, and even planning a welcome back party once they arrive. Contrast that to Candy Lo, who plays Sinje's sister in the original - she's aloof and almost uncaring and really doesn't speak much in the movie - Sinje's family is concerned, but in a much more distant way which adds to the feeling that Lee's character Mun is dealing with everything almost alone.
  • The Ending: In the remake, both parts to the end of the movie are less intense and apocalyptic than the original - Alba actually saves everyone in the final scene, while Lee ends up watching everyone burn to death as she tries helplessly to free them.

I know that the remake was designed to have a storybook Hollywood ending, and in a lot of ways it fits within the overall tone of that version - but if they would have stuck to the same ending where Alba doesn't save everyone, where she's not the hero - I think it would have added to the remake's credibility, and also showed that Alba was willing to take a chance on a new type of role versus the ones she's been taking lately where she either helps save the day, or everything just ends up working out for her.

Winner: The Original

The Laugh Factor

When you have a horror/suspense movie - probably the last thing you want is the audience actually laughing when they really shouldn't - and it happened twice in the theater I watched it at. The worst came before the final scene where Alba, who is making peace with the ghost whose eyes she has, is cradling her in her arms - but seen through the eyes of her doctor who can't see ghosts - we see her talking and holding no one - which proved to be comical for everyone watching.

Winner (or actually loser in this case): The Remake

Special Effects and Editing

While everyone thought the remake might actually be better in the special effects department - sadly - while the effects were decent, they weren't what you would expect when doing a remake of a classic horror/suspense film with a larger budget. At the same time, the soundtrack and the editing of the original was just better executed - one thing you just can't duplicate is the Pang style.

Winner: The Original

And the winner is...

Hands down, the original version of The Eye is the better of the two movies - and while the U.S. version wasn't horrible by any means (because there's worse out there) - when you remake a classic film like The Eye - you have to make it your own, but still stay true to the original - and that's something the U.S. remake just wasn't quite able to do.