Alexandre Aja: From Killer Piranha to Space Pirates

Word on the street is that director Alexandre Aja has once again delivered some magical ode to that line where the R-rating meets the NC-17 with Piranha 3D. It shouldn’t come as a surprise ‐ he is the man who delivered High Tension and The Hills Have Eyes ‐ two films that had this panty-waist writer running for his security blanket. And when Piranha hits theaters on Friday, many a blood-thirsty moviegoer will likely be fulfilled by gratuitous violence, nudity and unimaginable horrors ‐ in three dimensions. Sounds like a blast, if you ask me.

For Aja though, the release of Piranha 3D means that it’s time to begin looking forward. And according to words he spoke this week, forward means away from horror ‐ and into outer space. The kind of outer space created in Japanese manga, that is. The kind that will be a tentpole-sized adaptation of Buichi Terasawa’s Cobra ‐ The Space Pirate.

“I grew up dreaming about Cobra,” Aja told Deadline’s Mike Fleming. “My day was, finish school, run home and switch on the TV and I was hardly the only one. Kids did it in France, Italy, Spain, all over Western Europe. For many people there is Star Wars and nothing else, but for me and my writing partner Gregory [Levasseur], there is Star Wars and Cobra. I am so surprised it never crossed the ocean and made the same impact in the U.S., because it is so big everywhere else. There are 60 books, a lot of TV animation and so many adventures, pirates and bad guys that it is perfect to be reinvented into a really cool space opera adventure franchise for a new generation.”

The story of Cobra follows a notorious rogue whose refusal to align with the United Galaxies Federation or the Pirates Guild (awesome) makes him public enemy number one. But wait, there’s more: Cobra “teams up with a sexy bounty hunter named Jane, who is out to locate her sisters and decode a treasure map tattooed on their backs. Their goal: to liberate a lost treasure on Mars.”

Sexy bounty hunter sisters with treasure map GPS tattoos? Alexandre Aja’s twisted sensibility and propensity for violence (in his films) combined with a story that feels like it’s channeling the chronicles of Han Solo or Firefly’s Mal Reynolds? Get this project a lead actor with a perfectly chiseled chin, a tough-as-nails dame who looks good in a space suit, and we’ve got ourselves a good ole fashioned western in space. Directed by a strange Frenchman, based on manga from Japan. Am I wrong, but are these the ones that always seem to work out perfectly? (They are.)

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