Dredd In China

British 3D sci-fi action movie “Dredd”, directed by Pete Travis, premiered in China on Thursday, hoping to win Chinese hearts.

The film is written and produced by Alex Garland and is based on the British comic “2000 AD” comic strip “Judge Dredd.” Dredd (Karl Urban) is one of the judges who are law enforcers given the power to judge and execute in the huge, dystopian metropolis called Mega-City One, situated in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Dredd and his rookie sidekick, Judge Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), are forced to bring order to a 200-level high-rise block of flats and deal with its resident drug lord, Ma-Ma (Lena Headey).

An adaptation of the comic strip was earlier released in 1995, directed by Danny Cannon, and starred Sylvester Stallone. It was, however, a critical and commercial disappointment.

The new “Dredd” tells another story about the character and is more violent, realistic and vivid thanks to the use of advanced 3D technology. It is a decent but mindless action movie that may well please Chinese audiences. With a US$45 million production budget, the film was shot digitally and primarily in 3D using RED MX, SI2K and Phantom Flex high-speed cameras.

In regards to those scenes conveying the Slo-Mo time and space altering effects, images were created to be either beautiful or disorienting, similar to the “Matrix” trilogy’s “Bullet Time” special effects. The film also carries some B-movie-styled bloody scenes. For the Chinese version however, many of these were deleted.

The film has gained a 77 percent approval rating from 141 critics on the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, which read, “Fueled by bombastic violence and impressive special effects, rooted in self-satire and deadpan humor, ‘Dredd’ is a rare example of a remake that actually works.” Nevertheless, despite the positive critical response, the film only made US$36 million at box offices worldwide and with that was considered a flop.

“Dredd” hits Chinese screens nationwide on Friday, competing with Academy Awards-winning musical “Les Miserables,” which opened on Thursday and Stephen Chow’s Spring Festival blockbuster “Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons,” which is still hot and happening and breaking records after the holiday season.