10 Movies You Didn’t Know Were Remakes Of Foreign Language Films

Never have remakes been more prominent in the film industry than today. There is still a solid amount of original content, but studios and filmmakers are especially drawn to already existing films, taking them and altering them to their own vision. The outcome is undoubtedly very hit-and-miss. Sometimes remakes can be successful if they improve upon, modernize or tell a story in a new light – and in rare cases are better than the original. Other times, remakes serve no purpose at all, and are simply a carbon-copy of their source material.

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One of the more progressively popular types of remakes in Hollywood are that of foreign language films, usually for an English speaking and Westernized audience. There are a ton of films, both old and new, that some people might not even know were originally made in another country. While some international films become hits overseas, a lot are also overshadowed by their English counterparts. Some may surprise you quite a bit.

‘CODA’ (2021) – The Bélier Family

Available to stream on AppleTV+.

CODA became one of the most beloved films of 2021, warming the hearts of audiences everywhere. It was a huge success, and of course, won the Academy Award for Best Picture. However, the hit is actually a remake of the 2014 French film The Bélier Family.

Both films essentially have the same beats and tell the story of a hearing child of deaf adults who wants to pursue music, but whom her family also rely on to communicate with the world. Unlike Bélier, CODA actually cast deaf actors as deaf characters, adding authenticity and elevating it to a level above the original.


‘Ambulance’ (2022) – Ambulance

Available to rent or buy.

Michael Bay’s explosion-filled thrill ride wasn’t actually his own idea, even though it seems like the exact kind of concept he’d conjure up. Ambulance is a remake of the 2005 Danish film of the same name.

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Both films follow two brothers whose bank heist plans go awry, and are forced to hijack an ambulance to use as a getaway vehicle. In the original, the brothers need the money for their dying mother, but in the remake, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II‘s Will needs it for his wife’s surgery. The original film has not widely been seen, and both received mixed reviews.

‘The Departed’ (2006) – Infernal Affairs

Available to stream on HBO Max.

Martin Scorsese’s The Departed received huge critical success, and finally won him the Oscar for Best Director, as well as Best Picture. The legendary filmmaker’s classic is also a remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs.

Both films follow a similar plot revolving around an undercover cop who is sent into a local crime gang, and a gang member who infiltrates the police force. While Scorsese’s film might be more well known, both were well received. The original focuses more on action, while the remake more on character. They serve as an example of how a remake can work.

‘The Parent Trap’ (1998) – Das doppelte Lottchen

Available to stream on Disney+.

A lot of people know that The Parent Trap, starring Lindsay Lohan, is a remake of the 1961 film, the two American and produced by Disney. What most people don’t know is that both are a remake of the 1950 German film Das doppelte Lottchen.

All three versions of the movie follow twin sisters who meet at summer camp, and decide to switch homes in order to get their divorced parents back together. The latter two films are more widely known, as the German version is older and more difficult to access for viewing.

‘The Birdcage’ (1996) – La Cage aux folles

Available to stream on HBO Max.

The Birdcage, the hilarious comedy starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane, is a remake of the 1978 French-Italian film La Cage aux Folles. Both follow a gay nightclub owner and cabaret star, who pretend to be straight when introduced to their son’s fiancé’s conservative parents.

While the American version might be more popular, the original was actually very successful and was nominated for three Oscars, including Best Director. The remake is certainly more extravagant and starry, but it’s definitely worth checking out the original too.

‘The Guilty’ (2021) – The Guilty

Available to stream on Netflix.

Netflix audiences are more likely to be familiar with 2021’s The Guilty, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, but the film is a remake of the 2018 Danish film of the same name. Both follow an off-duty police officer who receives an alarming emergency call from a kidnaped woman.

The two versions follow an almost identical structure and narrative, both sitting around a similar ninety-minute mark. While Gyllenhaal delivers a solid performance, the remake doesn’t offer anything new or particularly refreshing, making the tight and tense Danish flick the pick of the two.

‘Some Like It Hot’ (1959) – Fanfare d’amour

Available to rent or buy.

Marilyn Monroe’s classic Some Like It Hot is recognized as one of the great films of Hollywood’s Golden Age, but this comedic caper started out life as the 1935 French film Fanfare d’amour. Both films follow two male musicians who join an all-female band disguised as women.

In the original, the musicians pretend to be female because of unemployment, and in the remake because they witness a mob hit. Some Like It Hot is also not the first remake of the movie – it was remade as the German film Fanfaren der Liebe in 1951.

‘The Upside’ (2017) – The Intouchables

Available to stream on Hulu.

The Upside is the American remake of the 2011 French film The Intouchables. Both films are based on a true story, and revolve around the friendship between a wealthy quadriplegic man and his caretaker – an immigrant in the original, and parolee in the remake.

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The French film was a huge crowd-pleaser and did extremely well overseas too. Despite a starry cast, including Bryan Cranston, Nicole Kidman, and Kevin Hart in an impressive dramatic performance, the remake wasn’t received with the same enthusiasm, garnering a mixed reception.

‘Wrath Of Man’ (2021) – Cash Truck

Available to stream on Prime Video.

In one of his many collaborations with director Guy Ritchie, Jason Statham starred in the 2021 action-thriller Wrath of Man. The movie is a remake of the 2004 French film Cash Truck, borrows the outline of the original story and infuses it with Ritchie’s signature style.

Both films center around a mysterious and vengeful man who starts working for a cash truck company, as his past and intentions are slowly revealed. The two versions received mixed reviews when released, with audiences praising the action but criticizing the convoluted storyline.

‘Let Me In’ (2010) – Let The Right One In

Available to stream on Netflix.

Director Matt Reeves’s Let Me In is a remake of the 2008 Swedish film Let the Right One In. Both are adapted from a novel, and follow the bond between a young bullied boy and a mysterious girl, who happens to be a vampire.

The original horror-romance is a beautiful and haunting film, but Reeves’s version isn’t unjustified. While both are similar in terms of story and atmosphere, Reeves adds his own flair and tone, using a larger budget to up the scares and violence. He makes sure this isn’t a pointless remake of an already great film.

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