“Ghost” left a lasting impression on the American from. It gave us the iconic pottery scene with Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore with “Unchained Melody” playing in the background and one of Whoopi Goldberg’s best roles. It’s essentially a classic. So much so that Japanese director Taro Ohtani did a Japanese remake in 2010. With all due respect to the original Ohtani has made a remake that’s actually entertaining.
The story is just like the original with a few differences besides taking place in Japan. The major one is the roles have been reversed. This time the female (Nanako Matsushima) is murdered while the male (Seung-heon Song) is widowed. The other is, unlike the original where the leads are already a couple, the movie sets up how they met and how they ended up together. This may seem slow but it does develop the lead’s relationship quite well. The rest of the story is just like the original and is pretty close to the original. It’s just as powerful and entertaining.
Sometimes remakes take liberties with the original to a point where the story is unrecognizable. This is usually true when it’s remade into a different culture. Here it’s obvious Ohtani respects the source material and has made a remake that does not feel like it’s from a different culture.
One reason the original was so well conceived was to due to Swayze/Moore’s chemistry. Luckily, Matsushima and Song have similar chemistry. They really work off of each other and they do make one great and cute on-screen couple. They both should be applauded for that.
Not all is perfect in this remake. Firstly, the version of “Unchained Melody” used here is terrible. One of the main reasons the pottery scene is so memorable in the original was because of this song. The poor cover of the iconic song made the scene in this version lose all impact the original had. Second, the murder was just disappointing and confusing. There’s no way the murderer was traveling fast enough on that motorcycle to cause her to fall hard enough to crack her skull. Third, the psychic isn’t as likable or have as lasting an impression as Goldberg had. She played the Japanese medium role well, but she just didn’t have the same spunk or the same attitude that made Oda Mae Brown so memorable.
The Japanese remake of “Ghost” may not be equal to the original, but it still holds up on its own. Matsushima and Song’s perfect chemistry plus a respect for the source material give this movie enough weight to hold its own despite some flaws. Fans of the original will enjoy this just to see a different take on the movie they love.