Asian Drama Remakes You Need To Check Out ASAP

Familiar stories with their very own twists

Original dramas and films often showcase ingenuity and inspire excitement from viewers because of their fresh narratives. However, remakes of other works have also proven time and again that rehashed material doesn’t have to look stale.

A recent drama that seemed to be proving this is The World Of The Married. Ranking as South Korea’s highest-rated drama as of writing, the series is an adaptation of the British drama Doctor Foster. The K-drama tweaked some of the twists and turns from its source material and it definitely worked. Its success seemed to have inspired the Philippine version titled The Broken Marriage Vow, with a promising cast lineup.

Curious to see what other Asian drama and film remakes you should check out? We’ve listed some of them below.

Miman Keisatsu: Midnight Runner (2020)

Adapted from Park Seo-Joon (Itaewon Class) and Kang Haneul’s (When The Camellia Blooms) 2017 film Midnight Runners, J-idols Sho Hirano (Kaguya-sama: Love Is War) and Kento Nakajima (Nisekoi) starred in Miman Keisatsu: Midnight Runner (also known as Detective Novice). The actors stepped into similar roles as two police academy students, Jiro Ichinose and Kai Honma. One major arc in both the film and the J-drama adaptation is the two leads witnessing an abduction during their day off from the academy. This led them to investigate and try to save the victim after their report of the crime didn’t get a favourable response.

Reasons to check it out: Since Miman Keisatsu is a drama series, it offered better pacing for developing the brotherhood between the two main characters. This makes you care more about their relationship and why they decided to act the way they do. Their brain-and-brawn dynamics are also well-fleshed out.

Trivia: The songs featured at the beginning and end of each episode are sung by the idol groups the stars of the show Sho Hirano and Kento Nakajima respectively belong in.

18 Again (2021)

Remember that 2009 film where Matthew Perry (Friends) turned into his younger self played by Zac Efron (High School Musical)? And he tried to fix his broken marriage while stopping his teen daughter from falling in love with his 17-year-old self? Yeah, that happened in 17 Again.

More than a decade later, we get a rehashed version of this topsy-turvy story with 18 Again starring Yoon Sang-Hyun (Miss & Mrs. Cops) as 37-year-old Hong Dae-Young and Lee Do-Hyun (Sweet Home) as his younger counterpart. Similar to the original version, Dae-Young used the miracle to restart his life, while fixing the broken relationships he had as his older self.

Reasons to check it out: Despite having the same comedic value, 18 Again offered a more serious take on re-evaluating relationships and becoming your own person. It also didn’t have creepy storylines like younger girls as potential love interests. Instead, it zoomed in on Dae-Young remembering why he fell in love with his wife and what led them to fall apart. Yoon Sang-Hyun and Lee Do-Hyun also performed their roles convincingly, increasing the believability of the story.

Good Doctor (2018)

The Japanese drama Good Doctor is adapted from a 2013 South Korean medical drama of the same name. This version stars Kento Yamazaki as Shindo Minato, a person with savant syndrome who becomes a pediatric surgeon. Shindo, who is within the autism spectrum, gets questioned for his capabilities by his peers in the medical field, as well as the patients and families he encounters in the profession.

With his unique perspective on things, not only does he change the lives of the people he encounters but also offers interesting insights into the pediatric field.This heartwarming drama delivers such a unique take on how people view autism that it also inspired an American adaptation.

Reasons to check it out: Japanese dramas often have shorter episode counts (10 to 11 per season) compared to K-dramas (with 16 episodes as a standard). But this format worked especially well for Japan’s Good Doctor. Instead of using a romance subplot to fill the long number of episodes, the conciseness of this version allowed the story to progress with an endearing mentor-mentee relationship between Shindo and the drama’s female lead Natsumi Seto (Juri Ueno). It also focused a lot on the challenges the patients and their families have to overcome, which made for many tear-jerking episodes.

Signal (2016)

The real-life Hwaseong serial murder case in South Korea has inspired a lot of work of fiction in and beyond the country. This is because the case remained unsolved for 30 years until the perpetrator was convicted just last year.

If you’re into police crime stories, chances are you’ve seen this tale retold through other South Korean titles like Memories of Murder (2003), Gapdong (2014), and Tunnel (2017) as well as the recent Japanese adaptation also called Signal. But one standout retelling of this chilling case is this 2016 version starring Lee Jee-Hoon (Move To Heaven), Kim Hye-Soo (Hyena), and Choi Jin-Wong (Black Money). The story revolves around two police officers from two different timelines who were able to connect the dots of the case through the past and present by communicating through a walkie-talkie.

Reasons to check it out: The subplots within each episode provide great fillers without watering down the story. The twists in the narrative offer just the perfect amount of intrigue to the viewer; they don’t rely on excessive shock value. We wouldn’t want to spoil too many details because they’re better experienced for yourself, but one thing we’ll say is the performances of the three leads are gripping.

Be With You (2018)

Son Ye-Jin may have earned international recognition after playing Yoon Se-ri in 2019’s Crash Landing On You, but she was already dubbed South Korea’s Queen Of Melodramas before it. One of her must-see works is Be With You, which is a remake of the 2004 Japanese film Ima, Ai Ni Yukimasu starring the late Yuko Takeuchi.

This film revolves around Woo-Jin (So Ji-Seob), who has to take care of his son alone after his wife Soo-Ah (Son Ye-Jin) passed away. Prior to her death, Soo-Ah promised her husband to be back during the rainy season even after her passing. As fate would have it, Woo-Jin finds Soo-Ah alive when the rainy season arrived, as promised. However, she has no recollection of their relationship. Still, they try to make do with the time they’re given despite the uncertainty surrounding this miracle.

Reasons to check out this remake: Despite following almost the same treatment as the original version, Be With You was able to effectively inject some lighthearted moments in the film that helped balance its bittersweet storytelling. Son Ye-Jin also gave an equally strong performance as Yuko Takeuchi’ as the story’s central character. Plus, the ending of this film will surely leave a lasting impression on you.

If you’ve lost faith in remakes because most of them lack creativity, we hope that these titles — which definitely added new flavour to the original stories without losing their essence — restore your hope.

(Cover photo from: @yejinhand)

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