Kublai Khan of the Yuan Dynasty attempted to invade Japan in 1274 and 1281.
He failed and, in so doing, highlighted the limitations of the Mongol’s campaign of conquest and expansion. The invasions are often cited for featuring one of the earliest uses of bombs and cannons outside China. Various works of fiction have attempted to adapt elements of these events, with the most recent being Ghost of Tsushima, an action-adventure Open World stealth game from Sucker Punch Productions.
People are buzzing about Ghost of Tsushima, because Sony Pictures and PlayStation are trying to make a live-action movie out of the game.
Chad Stahelski is expected to direct. Ghost of Tsushima is not the only gaming franchise coming to the big screen. Production on Uncharted (starring Tom Holland) has already begun. HBO has also started development on Last of Us TV show.
Video game adaptations have a poor track record. And yet Hollywood is still determined to turn the genre into the next big thing. They want to replicate the success of the comic book genre, a feat easier said than done.
Ghost of Tsushima follows Jin, a Samurai master forced to abandon his honorable ways when a Mongol Horde invades his home.
As far as adaptations go, the game has two primary factors working in its favour. First is the location – a beautiful, sprawling island furnished with all the trappings of a traditional 13th century Japanese setting.
Then there’s the combat, which is where the game shines. Jin is not a Samurai master in name only. The character has an arsenal of unique stances. You must understand the strengths and weaknesses of each stance before deploying them at the right time against the right enemy, ramming your way through some opponents with savage aggression and dancing through others with nimble footwork.
This is perfect for Stahelski. John Wick, which Stahelski directed with David Leich, was praised primarily for its approach to action.
The Last of Us is tricky, because HBO runs the risk of producing a generic zombie series in the vein of The Walking Dead. Don’t forget that in The Walking Dead the zombies are merely a backdrop. The human drama takes center stage.
The Last of Us takes a similar approach. The humans are the real monsters. Unless Craig Mazin (Chernobyl) the showrunner can identify a unique take, the movie might fail to recapture the magic of its video game counterpart.
Uncharted has an even bigger obstacle to overcome. Unlike The Last of Us, Uncharted is a movie, which means it does not have the time or space to grow and learn from its mistakes.
The video games work because they allow players to revel in their favourite Indiana Jones fantasies. Ghost of Tsushima is not limited by those weaknesses. The concept is as fresh and exciting as they come. Sony does not have to worry about comparisons to pre-existing movies or TV shows.
We need an epic Samurai film from Hollywood. They have largely ignored this genre.