Sukiyaki Western Django

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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.

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

Zulu: CHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRGGEEEEEEEEEEE!

This is a documentary about the various wars America has fought in Africa. It proves that even though the American army may have been severely outnumbered (at least 3 million to one) that their superior intellect and firepower would crush the enemy. How arrogant of the natives to try and fight the Americans who were only trying to bring some rock’n’roll to their continent. Did they think that the mighty US wouldn’t fight back! Well, they soon saw the error of their ways as Lee Marvin, Michael Kane, Clint Eastwoodand co kick some butt! Yeah man! 10 Km! Wave after wave of bad guys come, wave after wave of bad guys fall. Let this be a lesson to the bad guys of the world. If you annoy us, you will die. If you attack us, you will die. If we attack you, oh you better believe yo gonna die! A strong piece of Propaganda produced by Spielberg which successfully wiped out every American/African War and brought peace. The rest of the world needs to watch.

Best Scene: When Hawsbee is saving Jacobs and the rest of the gang from the fire in the bedroom.

Young Guns II: Rollin’, rollin’, rollin- RAW HAW!

Young Guns 2: Part 2, is as much an ensemble piece as the first film was. Survivors from the first film (Shat Pack favourites- Charlie ‘Mr’ Sheen, Ann Diamond Phillips, Emilio ‘I wish I was Michael J Fox’ Extevez, and Keifer ‘Lost Boy’ Southland) come together again with a host of new pups including Jonathan Bon Jovi, Chuck Norris, Muslim Slater, and Conrad Dorito. The plot follows the gang coming together again after the exploits of the first film- they have all been on the run from legendary law man Wyatt Ear who believes they are responsible for several murders and atrocities. Since the first film most have gone their separate ways. Billy The Boy has been rampaging through Texas robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, then killing the poor, and eating the rich. Doc has been on holiday in Mexico, has got himself a gal and spends his days making poetry, his night making sweet love. Neil Diamond Philips has been off on some sort of Spirit Guide affair, finding his inner Peyote and living in peace. They realise though that White Herpy is getting close and absolutely will not stop, ever, until they are dead. Or arrested. They need to ride once more, not Runaway, they may go down in a Blaze of Glory, but at least Someday they’ll be Saturday night.

This film is basically a remake of the first, albeit with a new plot and characters. It teaches you a lot about the Cowboys that used to roam about England before it was renamed America. There are shoot outs, drinking, women, and horses- everything you would expect in a good Western/Blue movie. We learn that Jimmy The Kid is actually one of the few remaining Demi-Mortals- humans who age anything from 2 to ten times slower than the rest of us. Whether or not this has been proved to be historically true is open for debate as no body was ever found and some claim to see him giggling and jumping through their wheat fields at night while they sit on their porch rocking chair sipping Sasparella.

Best Scene: When they are trapped with their backs to the wall and decide to charge out firing their guns in slow motion as the picture fades to sepia, and Living On A Prayer plays in the background. It makes me wish I was a Cowman and roam the desert shooting hippies!

The Magnificent Seven: They should have picked Arnie and Sly!

In this supposed classic of cowmen and Indians, a group of farmers recruit 7 Hollywood superstars to help them out of a sticky situation. Why they didn’t call the police I don’t know, maybe they were corrupt or away on holiday. The farmers have been under attack by a roaming gang of hoodies, you see, the farmers have created a new style of potato which is more tasty than other types and have cowardly decided to keep them all to themselves. These roaming hoodies have taken it upon themselves to break in every season, steal as many spuds as possible and ride off to a nearby glade where they spend the next 2 months gorging themselves on their bounty, laughing, and listening to Bob Dylan. The farmers can’t stand it anymore, so they decide to go to the surrounding hamlets to recruit some Hollywood heavyweights who should be able to help defend their crops. As it was only 1960 however, their choices were limited- preferably they would have picked Bruce Lee, Arnie, Sly, Bruce Willis, Van Damme, Chuck Norris, and maybe Dolph Lundgren but of course none of them were born yet.

Eventually in typical action movie style they find their men and each one has an individual skill- Steve McQeeun can jump over fences on his bike, Yul Burner has a magic hat (when he takes it off he can pull any weapon or item from it), Charlie Brosnan can through rocks really far etc. They actually only find 6 people, but a local teen seeking adventure decides to tag along, and later falls in love with one of the farmers. We get to know each character, but not much of their lives are revealed- they should have included some lost style flashbacks. People say this adds mystique to the cowboys, but I think it’s just lazy storytelling. After a while, they come up with a plan- Murdock will hide in the bushes near the enemy camp and at nightfall will rush in screaming ‘I need a trash bag’! This will stir the hoodies into a confused and angry state and they give chase. Murdock hides round the corner with the farmer he has fallen in love with, and the hoodies enter the camp and find they are in an ambush. The music soars, and the big battle scene begins. Most of the action is on horseback so it isn’t as fast paced as today’s speedboat movies, but it’s still OK.

I won’t spoil the ending, but some of the good guys are killed and the plan comes together. The most interesting part is that the director blurs the line between good and evil- the bad guys just want their fill of potatoes and while I cannot condone thievery, if the farmers had just struck up a deal with a local supermarket they could have become millionaires and bought speedboats, while the hoodies would have had all the potatoes they want at a reasonable price. In fact, the sequels to this film deal with an evil business man trying to burn the farmers out of their barns because they won’t hand over their recipe. There is even the suggestion that our heroes may well have once been hoodies, or even recovering potato addicts. We never find out.

I think this film is actually a remake of an even older black and white one which was set in the time of Knights, Maidens, and Dragons. If they’d kept that setting but updated the colour it could have been a great show. I can’t honestly find too much to fault this- it’s just not my glass of coke. There are lots of slow parts, a silly love story, and to be honest at times I forgot who was the goody and who was the baddie. It’s one of the only ancient films I can watch, but I’ve watched it once and won’t again. It wasn’t a waste of two hours, but it might be a waste of four.

Favourite bit: Steve and Yul Bruneul’s famous exchange: ‘After awhile you can call bartenders and potato dealers by their first name – Derek! Rooms you’ve rented – five hundred! Meals you eat in McDonalds- a thousand! Home – none! Wife – none! Speedboats… none! Suppose I left anything out?’ ‘Yeah. Places you’ve been tied down in – 17. Toilets you’ve soiled- a few million. People who laugh at your hat- a hundred and thirty seven.’