The director of John Wick wants to make the film “Ghost of Tsushima” in Japanese

Chad Stahelski, the John Wick Director hired by Sony to shoot hit samurai game Spirit of Tsushima into a film has said he would like to make the film in Japanese, with a cast of Japanese actors. And he noted that Sony is “on board” with the move.

Stahelski made the comments in an interview with Collider to promote the release of the Netflix vampire movie day shiftwhich he produced.

“Well, I think if we got that right, it would be visually stunning,” Stahelski said. “It’s character driven. It offers opportunities for great action and great looks. And honestly, we’d try to do it, all in character. That means it’s a Japanese thing about the Mongol invasion of Tsushima island. A full Japanese cast, in Japanese. Sony is so on board to help us with that. I’ve been going to Japan since I was 16. I love the country, the people, the language.”

At first glance, this is a bold move. Although Bong Joon Ho’s parasite and Netflix Squid Game have shown that while audiences are still willing to watch subtitled films and television shows in the US and elsewhere, it would still be uncharted territory – and financially risky – for a Hollywood-produced action blockbuster to be in a language other than English to be rotated.

Stahelski acknowledged this and seemed to suggest that the decision would limit the budget available for the film, but that he would be happy to work around it.

“No one is going to give me $200 million to do a tech-push film without speaking English. I understand,” he said. “So I’ve got to be smart and figure out who’s in charge of the ownership and the studio in trust and still get what I want and still make it something epic. […] And I think America in general, or at least Western audiences in general, are getting more used to where we’re getting so much more content from around the world because of the influence of Netflix and streamers and whatnot.”

From a certain point of view, this is something of a gamble for Stahelski, Sony Pictures and PlayStation Productions, the company’s arm that specializes in turning PlayStation games into films (which follow the success of the Unexplored movie, also has one Gran Turismo movie in 2023). But then again, it may be the only option available to them. Times have changed since the 2003 film The Last Samurai, which starred Tom Cruise. Make that Spirit of Tsushima Films in English or starring Western actors would likely draw accusations of inauthenticity, cultural appropriation and whitewashing.

Indeed, some of these criticisms were leveled at the game, which was made in the spirit of the classic samurai films by Akira Kurosawa, but by mostly white employees at developer Sucker Punch Productions’ offices in Bellevue, Washington. Spirit of Tsushima has audio tracks in English and Japanese, as well as a black and white “Kurosawa mode”. But it’s fair to say that the game shows only a superficial understanding of the cultural and political importance of the samurai.

How deeply you can explore these themes in a film with “great action, great looks” is a question for Massachusetts native Stahelski – who says that Kurosawa is “among the top five influences of my life as far as film goes”.will have to deal with it. But with the decision to make the film in Japanese, he cleared the first hurdle.

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