Two very different films/shows -- one plot

Has anyone else come across two very different movies or TV shows that have very similar underlying plots when you think about it?

Here’s an example: A good woman is beaten, raped and generally sexually abused, then dies – but a mystic sign after her death makes it all right.

This plotline describes both Lars von Trier’s indie movie “Breaking the Waves” and the “Kirei” Operation of the Cool Devices series of anime. “Waves” is a live action series set in Scotland about a good woman who comes to believe that she can help her invalid husband by having sex with lots of strangers, until she is beaten, raped and killed by some of them. But it’s OK when she dies because – bells ring mysteriously. Kirei is about a nice woman and her friend who are vacationing on a South Sea Island who are abducted by a crazed group of male natives who rape them repeatedly, then toss them in a bottomless pit – but it’s OK because when Kirei is tossed in the pit she encounters her friend’s spirit, and two butterflies escape from the pit before the door is closed.

I hate both of them thoroughly for attempting to fob off a truckload nastiness with some cheap mysticism. But the underlying similarity is so striking.

Also my wife informs me that both Dragonball and Saiyuki (both anime) are inspired by the Chinese legend of Goku the monkey king. Both are far removed from the legend, and they aren’t much like each other either.

I know there are a lot of stories out there with similar themes, I’m looking for stories that you would never have guessed had such a theme.

Um, Waves is a live action MOVIE not a series. Oops.

If we extend to books, there are extensive plot similarities between Michael Crichton’s awful Congo and the whimsical Newberry-award-winning children’s book The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene DuBois.

Max, how could a bloody horror novel have anything to do with a children’s story? Have things gotten significantly bloodier since I left my childhood?

Evil Captor: When you think about it, there’s only one plot: Protagonist fights Antagonist. All else is detail.

I remember Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and the comedy Evolution had the same underlying premise… aliens had come to destroy the planet, two factions had different ways to rid the world of the aliens, an out of control leader with good intentions used a big weapon to make the threat worse, and in the end, the heroes manage to win.

I have read “Congo” and I liked it – pretty good reprise of H. Rider Haggard’s work. But I have no knowledge of 21 Balloons – why is it like Congo?

I started a thread that sunk like a stone a while ago about one such occurence. (Come to think of it, I can’t believe I wasted an entire thread on this thing.)

Consider the following three Sandler masterpieces:
-Water boy
-Punch Drunk Love
-Anger management

All three have exactly the same underlying plot line. Shy boy has difficulty expressing his feelings and accumulates anger from growing up in a hostile social environment. Shy boy meets someone special, which has a catalytic effect; shy boy unleashes his anger. He beats some people up. Then, he gets the girl and everything is okay.

What’s particularly striking about this pattern is that even the very different Punch Drunk Love follows it pretty closely.

Yeah, if you simplify your plot description enough, it can encompass anything … so what? I’m talking about profound underlying similarities in stories that are wildly different. In the case I cited, one is Japanese hentai, or adult cartoon porn, the other was an indie four-hankie chick flick set in Scotland and made by a guy in Belgium or somewhere – but they were both basically the same story.

Good point, and the aliens in those movies are kinda similar too: vaguely amorphous creatures that are hard to get a handle on.

Think of all the movies about a maverick cop who discovers the local DA is on the take.

… score extra points if:

-Maverick cop’s partner gets killed in act I
-Maverick cop’s partner was one week away from retirement
-Maverick cop is asigned a play-by-the-book rookie as replacement
-They hate each other at first, but in the end, they become friends
-Previous resolution is brought by rookie wacking a bad guy and saving maverick’s life.
-Maverick cop finds out the DA was also involved in partner’s death - this time, it’s personal.
-One of the major baddies will actually get arrested half-way through for quintuple first-degree murder, conspiracy to blow up LA, and downloading six songs from KaZaA, but will walk out on bail.

How many movies fit this bill? Right now, I can think of:

-Metro, starring Eddy Murphy
-I Come in Peace, a sci-fi variation on the theme with Dolph Lundgren

…There’s got to be more… tons more.

Score yet more points if the maverick cop’s chief yells at him several times during the movie for not playing by the rules.

You could fit both Beverly Hills Cop movies in, S.W.A.T., any Steven Seagal and a rapper movie, Lethal Weapon, the Substitute kinda, Goldeneye if you count secret agents as law enforcement, Super Troopers…

Also, I had forgotten about Dirty Harry III: The Enforcer. As a matter of fact, any Dirty Harry flick fits pretty well, but this one scores more points for featuring the rookie sub-plot.

Manos: The Hand of Fate (immortalized on Mystery Science Theater 3000) has essentially the same plot as The Rocky Horror Picture Show, with slightly less sex and no musical numbers.

OK, it’s not really the plot so much as a gimmick of setting that is intimately tied to the plot.

Both plots concern a volcano with an enormous diamond mine underneath it. In both plots, people from outside come to this area, and realize what’s going on, and then the volcano erupts, burying the diamond mine forever, an the people escape only with their lives and no proof of their fantastic adventure. Or something pretty similar to that

I don’t care how hard you try to sell it, there’s nothing you can say to convince me that Manos had a plot.

Billy Bob Thornton was in both Levity and Monster’s Ball, which are essentially the same movie. Both were good.

When the Shakespeare Theatre in DC was performing its semi-nude version of Midsummer Night’s Dream a couple of years ago, I realized that this play has much in common with RHPS; the idea occurred to me during one of the scenes when the two young couples were running around the forest in their underwear.

In both, some innocent young things at the brink of budding romance find themselves in an unfamiliar world among strange people, led by a remarkable gentleman of great charm and some persuasion, whose codes of conduct are so very different from the ones they’ve been brought up to. As their old societal restrictions break down, the young persons have a frightening but freeing sexual experience in one wild night… and then presumably return to their straight-laced world come the dawn.

EVIL CAPTOR, the plot you mention is also the same for Ingmar Bergman’s The Virgin Spring, right down to the miracle at the end.

Erotic Thrillers use these themes all the time – but it’s not SURPRISING to find similarity in such a hackneyed genre. Now, if this theme were to show up in an indie four-hankie chick flick it’d be different.

Shoot, come to think of it, Lifetime might have somthing along those lines – as I recall there’s a movie called “False Arrest” where a woman is framed for murder by a crooked cop, spends years in jail but finally a crusading defense attorney finds the holes in her prosecution’s case, frees her and gets the crooked cop arrested in a not-so-false manner. I think the DA was crooked too. Definitely a four-hankie weeper, but it had Donna Mills in handcuffs and legirons and getting a lesbian prison rape and a body cavity search, so … it wasn’t ALL bad.