Remakes? They hold no interest for award-winning Chinese director Zhang Yimou.
And yet here he comes with A Woman, A Gun and a Noodle Shop, his remake of the Coen brothers' 1985 debut feature, Blood Simple.
"At the time I was looking for material for my next film, there were no good screenplays," Zhang, 59, says through a translator in a telephone interview. "As a principal, I like to avoid remakes. But when it comes to a situation where I couldn't find a script I liked, then I turned to the possibility of a remake."
Zhang's films range from the cool, deliberate beauty of Raise the Red Lantern to imaginative, even operatic martial-arts stories such as Hero and House of Flying Daggers. So he seems an unlikely candidate to adapt the darkly comic film-noir of the distinctly American Coens. But it was the first film that came to mind.
"I first saw it over 20 years ago at the Cannes Film Festival and it left quite an impression," he says. "I never went back to watch it but the impression lingered. In the last few years, when nothing grabbed me, I thought, why not try a Chinese version of that film? If I did a reinterpretation, I could speed up the process because I had solid material to work with.
"I wanted to take the original and attempt a Chinese-style interpretation. I wanted to inject aspects of Chinese culture and, in that way, adapt it to a new context. One aspect is the theatrical element that I tried to incorporate. I'm indebted to the Peking Opera for that."
Still, Zhang found it challenging to adapt a story set in the late 20th-century Texas flatlands to a Chinese setting.