Have Your Say: Keep Or Change The Original Film Title?

A reoccurring issue that's been bought up from you guys in our comments section is whenever there is a change or slight alteration to the original film title for its international release. Most recently, Sony Classics revealed that a secondary title Redemption will be added to Gareth Evans' Indonesian actioner The Raid when it hits US theaters around March.  This raises the question on whether or not its necessary. 

Before I get into the reasons for a title change, lets first ask what is the purpose of a film title.  The purpose of a film title is to communicate the "what" and "who" in a few words.  I believe an effective title should hold relevance to the theme, presenting a basic gist on what is instored.  From a publicity/marketing standpoint, it may sound catchy and seem memorable to attract as much attention as possible, much like brand names.

So back to the main question: Why change it?  When a foreign title is changed, its usually through design to appear English-friendly and accessible for the uninitiated.  For example, some foreign titles such as Sha Po Lang, Ong Bak and Taegukgi are English romanization of a language inherited of its respected country which requires some cultural understanding to truly grasp the significant meaning behind the words. To avoid confusion, the title may be changed completely or a secondary title/additional words is apply as in the case of Kill Zone, Ong Bak: Muay Thai Warrior and Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War.

Some title changes is unavoidably necessary because when translated literally, the words may not flow in its English form or that there is no appropriate English equivalent to the exact words from its original language.  But even when cultural or language barrier is not a factor, the international distributor still reserve the right to deem the original title either suitable or changed it outright.  We seen this before, the latest off the top of my head is MS One: Maximum Security being changed to Lockout.

In the case of The Raid, its a no brainier why its called the way it is as it involves a Swat team raiding a criminal-infested building to take down a drug lord.  No surprise there, right? On why Redemption is attached, its been said to mark the first part of planned film trilogy, a tactic commonly used in major film franchise.  My beef I have particularly with this approach is I suspect it was thoughtlessly slapped on only for flashy pizzazz sake, yet there is no applicable connection with this word to the story, resulting in a misrepresentation of the film.  I would prefer to keep the title as it was originally intended.  The Raid may not be a unique title but its simple and straightforward.

Now I turn the floor over to you. What do you think? I would like to hear your position about whether to keep or change the original film title.  Is there any bad examples? Or good if any at all? Have your say on the subject in our comments section below.

EDIT: the director Gareth Evans has responded to the title change, explaining it's a copyright issue. Read the director's full explanation here.
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