Sukiyaki Western Django

SukiyakiWestern.jpg

A muddled and often confused Miike effort, this nevertheless entertains and freaks out in equal measures. With admirable action pieces, plenty of humour, some decent cameos, the film is never subtle, is always excessive in every sense, and is about twenty minutes too long.

Featuring an almost all-Japanese cast speaking almost entirely in English, this feels like another experiment by Miike but unlike those which have succeeded this one is a bit of a stretch. The film does look great, and sound great, seeking to emulate and reverently spoof Spaghetti Westerns and Martial Arts epics. This is supposedly loosely based on historic events, but the plot feels an awful lot like Yojimbo, with a lone gunman riding into a solitary town broken by two warring clans. As the film progresses we learn more about the gunman’s reasons for being there, and learn a little of the history and hatred between the clans, but the central relationship is between the gunman, Ruriko, and her mute grandson. They provide the film’s emotional core and while the characters always feel distant and are never fully realised, there is a surprising amount of emotion in the movie once the killings start. There are laughs caused by outlandish action and violence, plenty of unintentional humour, and a Quentin Tarantino cameo.

I would struggle to recommend this one to anyone who isn’t a Miike fan – maybe uber-Tarantino fans will get a kick out of it, but from an action perspective there isn’t anything here you won’t have seen. The plot is needlessly complicated, there are perhaps too many characters, and it all has that Miike charm which you will either love or hate. It is stylish, looks a treat, and is a unique package. Still, I enjoyed it more than I expected and if you don’t mind a trip down a very weird avenue you might too.

download

Have you seen Sukiyaki Western Django? Do you think it is one of Miike’s best? Let us know in the comments!

Kill Bill Vol. 1

Kill Bill Vol. 1

Billed as Tarantino’s fourth film, Kill Bill Vol 1 is both a departure from what he has done before, and a mix of all previous films. It is primarily a Kung Fu revenge movie with many nods to past martial arts classics. Uma Thurman plays The Bride, a pregnant woman shot and left for dead at her wedding by Bill and his gang, the people she used to work for. After lying in a coma for four years, she wakes and immediately begins her quest for revenge. She is a killer, and all of her abilities remain, so she travels to Japan to get herself the greatest sword ever made and pick off her old gang one by one by one…

All the trademarks of the Auteur are here, the dialogue, the non-linear story-telling, the clever camera angles and the violence, but while his past films appealed to smart-ass critics, this is one for the fans, for himself, for all the kids like me who grew up watching Martial Arts movies. There is a great amount of blood-shed, although it is all brilliantly and stylishly filmed, and of course it is all done in a humorous way. As usual, Tarantino gets the best out of his cast, and they all seem to feel that it is an honour to work with him. Thurman is back to her best, old favourites like Sonny Chiba and Kenji Ohba are excellent, Lucy Liu is very good, and all the smaller parts are filled admirably. Julie Dreyfuss is also good, and Chiaki Kuriyama of Battle Royale, Gonin, and Shikoku fame. Tarantino is clearly having fun making this, experimenting with a variety of styles, from manga and anime to filtering between black and white and colour, the soundtrack is as effective as all his previous films, the instrumental mixing well with the songs and noises.

Kill Bill Vol.1 works mainly, through all the impressive violence, fun and games because of the Bride and her quest. We want to see her get revenge, we want to see her destroy all the murdering mah-fah’s who get in her way, and we want to see her Kill Bill. For that though you may have to wait for part two, unless you’ve wisely purchased that as well. There are a few twists, saving the biggest till last, but overall this is a fun movie, particularly for fans of fight films, setting us up well for the more emotive Vol 2, the Chinese Western part. At the time, a good return for the best new American director of the nineties.

The extras on the DVD are disappointingly sparse- a short making of and a music video. Where’s the manic commentary we have come to expect from the man who loves nothing more than talking about movies? A few extras in this day in age are almost a necessity.

Feel free to comment on the movie- is this Tarantino’s best or nothing more than a mish mash of other movies?