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Point Blank a.k.a. À bout portant (2010) versus Pyojeok a.k.a. The Target (2014) versus Point Blank (2019)

genre: thriller, action

I will be reviewing À bout portant (2010),  The Target a.k.a. Pyojeok (2014) and Point Blank (2019). Both The Target and Point Blank are remakes of À bout portant. So I will also be comparing these three to each other. 

A nurse's aide named Samuel Pierret (Gilles Lellouche), whose very pregnant wife is taken hostage is forced to kidnap a patient called Hugo Sartet (Roschdy Zem) who is wanted by the authorities. Naturally Samuel does what he can to get his wife and unborn child back.

From this moment on it's a rollercoaster ride for Samuel and the audience as not only does he have to deal with criminals. The police are also after him since they suspect him being involved with Hugo. Now you might think that there is nothing special about this film since it sounds like your dime in a dozen thriller you can watch almost every week. However there are some elements that make it stand out a little. First of all it's French. Second the main character Samuel is not your typical action hero. He is just a normal man without military training or something similar to that. Basically he is everyman put in a very extreme situation. Thirdly it's a very fast paced film where you barely will have time to stop and think about the events. I mean the logic and the implausibilities. Since there are too many to mention. However like I said this is one of those films where you just have to go with the flow to get the most out of it.

The action is choreographed well and looks very realistic. Perhaps not all of the stunts. However who knows what you would do when in the same situation? It also helps that the cast is good and take the material seriously. They sell that events are real and dire. You root for Samuel all the way since he truly is a good guy who tries to avoid the worst even when he has very little choice. And you can sympathize with him. Hugo also is a solid character. Far more complex than you would initially think. However I won't discuss him any further since his background is part of the plot events. The less you know the better the experience will be. 

Overall À bout portant is a simple but very effective action thriller that never lets up until the very end.

In this Korean remake a few changes have been made. The focus is now on the older brother played by Ryu Seung-Ryong. The main character from the original and the 2019 Netflix version is now more a side character. To top it off he is not an orderly or trainee nurse but a fully fledged doctor. I am pretty sure this confirms most of the stereotypes about Asians wanting their kids to always be lawyers and doctors. Not that it matters much. It has very little significance in relation to the main story as apart from the changes stays true to the original story.

Right from the start the tone is set. It's serious and tense. It promised a lot and made me excited even knowing how events would play out. That in combination with the better choreographed action certainly makes it stand out from the original and the Netflix remake. I even could appreciate the Korean melodrama. It seemed to fit the story quite nicely. However then the film seems lost. It's almost like it was hard for the director to keep up the thrills and tension. The action packed scenes certainly remedied some of the slow scenes. But they can't prevent the film from being boring. Now you have to understand that I watched this last on the same day as I watched the original and the 2019 version and perhaps this could have tainted my viewing experience a little. But I can assure you that this wasn't the case. For example I had watched the original before and still liked it the second time I saw it. The Netflix version I liked as well even if that one was more lighthearted. And I really was liking the the more action packed approach. Only at one point I didn't feel as invested in events as much as I should.

The ending was satisfying though since it redeemed the older brother character the most compared to the sane character in the other films. But overall it is the weakest compared to the other films.

At first glance Point Blank seems like a scene for scene remake of the original. But after twenty minutes or so events play out a little differently. 

And I am happy that it did since it genuinely offered a few surprises. Then there is the tone. It's inconsistent and far lighter than the original. More comedic relief and banter between Paul and Abe. I don't know. It seems inappropriate. Paul's wife also doesn't act that scared or worried compared to the wife in the original. And through her reaction to events you felt scared for her increasing the tension. 

That brings me to the biggest problem of this remake. The tension. It's gone. There are too many comedic moments and slow downs that completely break down what should have been an adrenaline filled thrill ride.

Now that being said. I did find the film to be entertaining. Largely due to the solid acting by Frank Grillo, Anthony Mackie and Marcia Gay Harden. But compared to the original this falls short. While the original wasn't exactly Shakespeare it did treat it's audience with more intelligence. Here they constantly give you scenes to explain events something that is not needed at all. The choice of the songs also is a real mood killer. Not that I didn't like them. But they simply don't fit in a film like this.

So yes for a Netflix film it's decent. But the original is twenty times better so go watch that one first!

Another remake (Tamil) is currently being made. I probably will watch that as well and hope it will try to do some things more differently. Usually Tamil films are highly creative so that is going to be promising for sure. For now these will have to do. It's quite rare for a film to have spawned so many remakes but it does say a lot of the orignal's quality. Perhaps not a masterpiece but certainly one of the best in the genre. And it still stands above all of the remakes. In short: Watch it, you won't regret it!

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