15 Worst Hollywood Remakes Of Foreign Films

The cinematic world has been bombarded with remakes. Whether it be action movies like Judge Dredd or comedies like 21 Jump Street, it seems Hollywood is eager to invest in movies with an already established audience. While there are remakes that have been praised by both critics and audiences, there are plenty of others that have fallen completely flat.

Some of the worst offenders have been remakes of foreign films, as Hollywood tends to adjust the movie in an attempt to appeal to American audiences. While some writers and directors have been successful in adapting their movies, like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Three Men and a Baby, others have completely missed the mark. This ends up not only disappointing new viewers, but fans of the original movie as well.

Perhaps the teams behind these remakes didn't truly grasp the source material or maybe they simply ignore what made the original movies so interesting in the first place. In some cases, the movies merely aren’t suited for an American remake. For whatever the reason, these movies can be simply unbearable and can even soil the reputation of the original in extreme cases.

Here are the 15 Worst Hollywood Remakes of Foreign Films.

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Ghost in the Shell poster with Scarlett Johansson (cropped)
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14 Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell poster with Scarlett Johansson (cropped)

Let’s start things off with the most recent remake you’ll see on this list. 2017’s Ghost in the Shell is an adaptation of the 1995 Japanese animated movie of the same name and takes elements from the Masamune Shirow manga.

The movie follows Scarlett Johansson as Major Mira Killian, a cybernetic human who tries to gain a better understanding of her life, after she survives a vicious cyberterrorist attack.

While the original film was praised for its visual aesthetic and captivating storytelling, the live-action remake was not nearly as well received. Criticized for its bland character development and even drawing accusations of racism for its casting of primarily Caucasian actors, Ghost in the Shell was a letdown to long-time fans and newcomers alike.

13 Dinner for Schmucks

Dinner for Schmucks is a 2010 comedy that stars Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell. A remake of the 1998 French comedy Le Dîner de Cons, the movie sees Rudd’s Tim Conrad struggle with accepting his new colleagues’ mean-spirited dinner party.

After arriving with his eccentric new friend Barry, played by Carrell, Tim learns that his guest’s sole purpose at the event is as a laughing stock for his fellow financial executives.

Whereas Le Dîner de Cons captivated audiences with its quirky sense of humour, Dinner for Schmucks was a little too cringeworthy and just plain mean for most viewers. The humour fell flat at several points throughout the movie and it ignored some key elements of the source material.

12 Oldboy

Josh Brolin in Oldboy

Adapted from a Japanese manga, 2003’s Oldboy is a dark, gritty crime thriller that has been enjoyed by audiences worldwide. Emotionally complex, many have listed South Korea’s Oldboy as one of the best movies of the 2000’s.

The success of the original ultimately led to a 2013 American remake, with Josh Brolin in the leading role. Both adaptations of Oldboy follow their lead character’s attempt to find the person responsible for their lengthy imprisonment.

While both films have their fair share of violence, the South Korean film was praised for using its brutal visuals to add to the story and not just to shock audiences. However, the American remake was criticized for its superficial storytelling and for adding little to the Oldboy mythos.

11 City of Angels

City of Angels

1998’s City of Angels sees Nicholas Cage as Seth, a ghost tasked with guiding the recently deceased into the afterlife. When he comes across Meg Ryan’s Dr. Maggie Rice, Seth becomes infatuated with the young doctor and decides to take on a human form.

The remainder of the film follows Seth and Maggie through their short, but complicated relationship. A loose remake of the 1987 German film Der Himmel über Berlin, City of Angels didn’t manage to grasp much of the emotional intensity of the original.

Whereas Der Himmel über Berlin captivated critics with its enchanting and unique storyline, City of Angels was criticized for transforming the story into a formulaic romance. It seems to be a common criticism that Hollywood remakes oversimplify the source material.

10 Martyrs

The 2008 French-Canadian film Martyrs was an extremely graphic and disturbing horror flick. The movie follows two victims of childhood abuse, Lucie and Anna, who seek to enact revenge on Lucie’s abusers. Through an increasingly unfortunate series of events, Anna finds herself on the receiving end of the same abuse that Lucie suffered.

Martyrs was praised during its run in the independent film circuit for its boundary-pushing story and visuals. As a result, the film garnered enough attention to be remade in English in 2015 with Troian Bellisario and Bailey Noble in the roles of Lucie and Anna.

Due to the assumed wider audience that the remake would enjoy, the 2015 release of Martyrs was severely toned down. The result was a bland horror film that did nothing to improve upon the original.

9 The Uninvited

Emily Browning in The Uninvited

The Uninvited is the 2009 remake of South Korea’s 2003 psychological horror A Tale of Two Sisters. Both films depict a young woman’s return home after a stint in a psychiatric hospital, following a suicide attempt. Both women face major obstacles in their recovery from the actions of their cruel stepmothers and the ensuing ghostly encounters with their dead relatives.

Based on a Korean folktale, A Tale of Two sisters was praised by audiences worldwide, becoming the highest grossing Korean horror movie of all time.

However, The Uninvited was not nearly as well received. The American remake was panned for its boring adaptation, doing little to keep audiences interested let alone scared. Unfortunately, this won’t be the last Korean remake that's attempted.

8 Death at a Funeral

Remakes: Death at a Funeral 2010

British humor is admittedly not for everybody. The often dry yet simultaneously over the top style of British comedies can be a polarizing genre in North America. With the success of American television remakes of The Office and Whose Line is it Anyway?, this lead movie producers to take chances on British comedy remakes.

One of the less fortunate remakes of British comedies was 2010’s Death at a Funeral. A remake of the 2007 film, the ensemble comedy starred Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence, and Tracey Morgan, among others.

While the remake had a quality cast, the movie failed to resonate with audiences in any meaningful way. Despite being quite faithful to the original, it seems like Death at a Funeral simply didn’t need a remake.

7 Dark Water

The early 2000’s saw a serious rise in Japanese horror remakes. Hollywood blockbusters like The Ring and The Grudge brought Japan’s unique brand of horror to North American audiences. However, there were a few J-horror remakes that fell short.

One of these less fortunate remakes was 2005’s Dark Water. A remake of the 2002 Japanese movie of the same name, many horror fans were looking forward to Hollywood’s take on the Koji Suzuki story. Starring Jennifer Connelly as the recently divorced Dahlia Williams, Dark Water followed Williams as she tries to come to terms with the strange happenings in the new apartment that she shares with her daughter.

The movie was deemed as simply not scary by many audience members and critics. Dark Water seems to have glossed over what made the original such a fright.

6 Taxi

Starring Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon, 2004’s Taxi is a remake of the 1998 French action comedy. Latifah plays Belle, a lead-footed taxi driver who finds herself in the role of chauffeur to Fallon’s Andy, a New York City detective. The unlikely duo spend the majority of the movie chasing a team of Brazilian bank robbers.

Unfortunately, the “odd couple” dynamic achieved in the original version of Taxi did not translate well in the remake. 2004’s Taxi relied heavily on meaningless action shots and the attractive cast of bank robbers, skimping on the storytelling.

Although Jimmy Fallon has found success on his Late Night show, his film career has not been very well received. It seems Taxi is doing little to help this reputation.

5 The Vanishing

Remakes: The Vanishing 1993

1993’s The Vanishing is a psychological thriller and a remake of the 1988 Dutch-French thriller of the same name. The movie stars Jeff Bridges, Kiefer Sutherland, and Sandra Bullock, with the latter playing the kidnapped Dianne.

Sutherland's character, Jeff, then tries to track her down while he is unknowingly being tracked by the culprit, Barney, who is played by Bridges. Spoorloos, the Dutch name of the original film, enthralled audiences with its gripping storyline, but the remake received the opposite reaction.

The performances in the remake were unconvincing on all accounts and the storyline was needlessly dumbed down. While Spoorloos managed to avoid typical thriller clichés, The Vanishing was a bore, with one publication naming it the worst remake of all time.

4 The Eye

The Eye is a 2002 Hong Kong-Singaporean horror film, whose main character can see spirits after undergoing an eye transplant. The original was praised by horror fans worldwide resulting in multiple remakes, including an American one in 2008 starring Jessica Alba.

This remake starred Jessica Alba and was disliked by nearly all who watched it, including the movie's own director, David Moreau. Audiences who saw the remake were not impressed with the changes to the script, calling it bland and predictable.

Alba’s performance in The Eye was so disliked that she was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award. As is the case with the majority of these remakes, the American version of The Eye was simply boring and unnecessary.

4. Godzilla 1985

Godzilla 1985 poster red

Godzilla is one of the most beloved monster movie franchises of all time. First coming to the screen in 1954 in Japan, the franchise quickly spread to movie lovers around the globe. Godzilla, a prehistoric sea monster, terrorizes society throughout its many on-screen appearances.

The 1984 Japanese movie The Return of Godzilla was re-released as Godzilla 1985 in America, following major edits and rewrites. Fans of the original Godzilla movies enjoyed the over-the-top nature of the films and its questionably dubbed dialogue. However, Godzilla 1985 felt clumsy and thrown together, missing the charm of the original.

The poorly received 1998 Godzilla didn't restore much faith in audiences either. The 2014 version of the monster still had some problems, but it's arguably the best version that Hollywood has managed to pull together.

3 The Wicker Man

The Wicker Man Intro Nicolas Cage

Nicholas Cage is no stranger to appearing in bad remakes. Cage starred in the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man, which was based on the 1973 British mystery movie of the same name. Both films follow police sergeants, played by Cage in the remake, during an investigation of a young girl who has gone missing.

The community that the young girl is a part of are totally unwilling to help in the investigation, claiming that the girl never existed in the first place. While the original Wicker Man left audiences in suspense, the remake did little more than make audiences laugh.

The acting style is bizarre and the attempted improvements to the original only cluttered up the move. The original film's director, Robin Hardy, has even completely dissociated himself from the American remake.

2 Swept Away

We’re not sure who wanted to see Madonna, other than her former husband Guy Ritchie, up on the Silver screen. Admittedly, she’s proved herself to be a talented performer. However, every venture outside of music seems to tank for the Queen of Pop.

This is certainly the case with the 2002 movie directed by Ritchie, Swept Away. A remake of the 1974 Italian film Travolti da un insolito destino nell'azzurro mare d'agosto, the romantic comedy was a critical and commercial flop.

Lina Wertmüller, writer and director of the original film, hated the remake and critics were right there with her. Swept Away received 5 Golden Raspberry Awards for its awful writing, acting, and on-screen chemistry. Madonna has most recently tried her hand behind the camera, having directed 2012's W.E. 

1 One Missed Call

This movie seems like it was doomed from the start. Based on the lackluster Japanese film released in 2002, One Missed Call tried to ride the wave of J-horror remakes that proved popular in North America during the 2000’s.

The movie is about a series of people who receive phone calls from their future selves, detailing their impending death. Criticized by many for its similarity to Ringu, and the American remake The Ring, One Missed Call left audiences yawning.

It’s cliché storytelling and bland acting were a total bore, leading to the movie being called the worst of 2008. In fact, the movie was so poorly received that it currently holds a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes and was awarded the dubious Mouldy Tomato Award.


 Which Hollywood remakes did you think missed the mark? Let us know in the comments!

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