A few months ago, Liam Neeson suggested in an AICN interview that Johnnie To's remake of Jean-Pierre Melville's legendary LE CIRCLE ROUGE was effectively dead in the water. This was of course a sad moment for a lot of us, because I count myself among the people who believe that if there is anyone even capable of remaking Melville - or rather, the only one who should be allowed to touch the source material - it's To. However, there was never an official confirmation of the cancellation, and quite the opposite - subtle signs pointed to the fact that the remake was still in development.
Well, an interview with To conducted by The Hollywood Reporter today confirmed that yes, THE RED CIRCLE is still in development after all. It's just taking a lot of time, it seems. Or, in the words of To himself:
THR: Early preparations started on "Red Circle" and then stopped. Is the picture ever going to happen?
To: It needs time. I'm not satisfied with the script and if I'm not satisfied nobody else is going to be. But it is absolutely one of my priorities as you can see (points to the wall where script notes are plastered.) "Death of a Hostage," which is a Hong Kong production through Media Asia, is probably what I'll shoot next. Then, hopefully, "Red Circle."
This leads me to believe that it's possible Neeson and co. jumped ship simply because To wasn't going anywhere yet soon. But if you look at it from another perspective - it's good that To is being so extremely perfectionist about it, because that's what a Melville remake deserves. Additionally, there is one more reason to be happy about THE RED CIRCLE's messy and difficult birth: In the Cannes presskit for VENGEANCE - which you can grab here - producer Michele Halberstat hints at the fact that VENGEANCE would never have seen the light of the day if it wasn't for THE RED CIRCLE's production delays. Two sides to every coin.