Sukiyaki Western Django
"It's not a remake, it's not a wannabe, it's not a rip-off, it's just a great director having fun while making a cool fucking movie."
- Mighty Peking Man
Sukiyaki Western Django (2007)
Director: Takashi Miike
Writers: Takashi Miike, Masa Nakamura
Cast: Hideaki Ito, Masanobu Ando, Koichi Sato, Kaori Momoi, Yusuke Iseya, Renji Ishibashi, Quentin Tarantino
Running Time: 120 min.
Plot: Set during "The Genpei Wars" at the end of the 1100s, the Minamoto and Taira gangs face off in a town named Yuda, while a deadly gunman (Ito Hideaki) comes to the aid of the townsfolk
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: For many years, a small town named Yuda has been dominated by two rival gangs: The Heike Reds and the Genji Whites (one group sports white, the other wears red). The two sides have pretty much taken refuge in Yuda, due to a treasure rumored to be buried somewhere within.
One day, a lone gunslinger, who is also in search of the treasure, rides in the gang-infested town. His solid skills and quick reflexes are immediately challenged by both gangs. Impressed by his skills, the two gangs have a bidding war to recruit the stranger, with each leader promising him a larger share (or better deal) if the treasure is found...
Sergio Leone took a big ass bite out of Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo and made one of the most influential Italian western films ever. Now, Takashi Miike - one of Japan's most loved cult directors - takes that bite back, chews it up, gargles it down, then spits it out on an odd shaped canvas. The result: a fun-filled flick full of violence, humor and wackiness (not to mention weirdness!).
Sukiyaki Western Django is filled with nods to some of the most popular Italian Western flicks we've come to know and love. It even goes as far as having direct references to characters like Django and Yojimbo, as if they existed in the same parallel universe.
Essentially, Sukiyaki Western Django is to Italian Westerns what Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 1 was to Exploitation/Asian films. Both share the same execution... you know, a filmmaker's love for film, making a film for the fun of it, never taking it too serious, yet still packing that creative punch that will eventually make it a cult classic in its own right. And speaking of Quentin Tarantino, he does have a cameo in this film (and he does way better behind the camera).
With all the wisecracks, painted sets, neat perspective shots and quick animated sequences ("The Bloody Benton"), you still get some of Miike's trademark vulgar violence... don't ever expect this guy to pull a punch. I won't ruin any particular scene for you, but there's a moment where one of the "red" gang members says "My color looks good on you" after a traumatic killing. Classic.
The action scenes are well choreographed and there's hardly a dull second. In addition to the gun-slinging, there's enough slicing, dicing, explosions and beatings to go around for those who prefer something than just "John Woo" shit.
Sukiyaki Western Django is filmed entirely in english, but keep that subtitle button handy (unless you own the Malaysian DVD), because you can barely understand the cast members. The first time I watched it, I only understood 40% of what they were saying; the second time I watched it, the bad english grew on me, and I understood nearly everything. Go figure. And yes, subtitles weren't an option because I do have the Malaysian version. But in the end, with or without english subs, the movie is still an easy watch.
Sukiyaki Western Django is a great film. If you're a fan of both Asian and Italian Westerns, it's a must. As for the people who thought this film was crap (and I was surprised at how many people didn't like it), they were just taking it way too serious. It's not a remake, it's not a wannabe, it's not a rip-off, it's just a great director having fun while making a cool fucking movie.
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S RATING: 8/10