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This is one of those stories I’m so excited to talk about, I’ll have to stop typing every few minutes just to pump my fists really hard. According to Variety, South Korean director Kim Jee-woon has signed on to direct an adaptation of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Coward, the first chapter of their outstanding pulp crime series Criminal, for Electric City Entertainment and Sierra/Affinity (fist pumps).
This isn’t the first time this project has surfaced, as there was talk back in 2011 of Twlight and Hard Candy director David Slade being on board to direct, but he opted out soon after. The multiple Eisner Award-winning Brubaker adapted his own work for Slade, and he’ll be polishing up that screenplay for the new director. I couldn’t be more pleased that they didn’t bring in some hack to butcher this great story. It always bothers me when comic writers don’t adapt their own books, and Brubaker’s lack of Hollywood cred could have easily meant a new writer was coming in. It helps to stay away from giant movie studios though.
While Slade may have made a good film out of Coward, I have a feeling Jee-woon will make a great one. He made his first big explosive splash into Hollywood earlier this year with Lionsgate’s The Last Stand with Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was something of a departure from his visionary films of his native country, such as the revenge epic I Saw the Devil, the horror mystery A Tale of Two Sisters or the surreal action comedy The Good, the Bad, the Weird. But there’s one film that he made that fits in squarely with the crime-ridden story that Coward will tell, and Brubaker name-dropped that film in an interview with MTV, where he was obviously pleased with the decision.
“My first reaction was shock,” Brubaker said. “Because I love his work, and when [producers] Jamie [Patricof] and Lynette [Howell] sent me a short list of directors and I saw his name on it, I had to double-check he was really interested. Anyone who saw A Bittersweet Life will know exactly why he’s right for this movie.” And he’s right. The 2005 action drama shares some of the same themes and free-range violence.
Coward, which won the Eisner for best new series, follows the hardened criminal Leo Patterson, whose meticulousness and care is often mistaken for pure cowardice. He gets into a diamond heist against his better judgement with a crooked cop, and, as you can imagine, a lot goes wrong before it goes right.
Brubaker says he spent time with Jee-woon recently going over notes with translators, saying the director has a really cool vision for what he wants to do, and that they’ve been discussing the films look and tone. He plans on being as big a part of the production as he needs to be, which is awesome.
He also says the producers have a first option on Lawless, the next book in the series, so if Coward is successful at all we might just have a franchise on our hands. It's a strange situation, though, since the Criminal series uses different characters to tell the stories of each book. But it might also help get Brubaker’s Sleeper adaptation up and at ‘em as well.
Take a peek at A Bittersweet Life below.