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Bloody Benten cover

Action & Adventure, Art House & International and Westerns movie directed by Takashi Miike

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Takashi Miike's Genre-Busting POPCORN Extravaganza!!

  • Feb 15, 2009
Rating:
+4



SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO (2007) is Takashi Miike's spin on the Asian Western. While it may not be a wholly original idea, video games have experimented on this mixing of genres such as "Western Samurai", Eiichi Kudo's Fort of Death (1969) and the nearest attempt at an Asian western is Hong Kong's "Peace Hotel"; Miike's version is worth the buzz and the hype. The film exudes coolness and is surprisingly entertaining, it is a fitting tribute to Spaghetti westerns ("Sukiyaki" instead of "spaghetti") and chambara (samurai) period films. Also, a certain American director who loves Asian films makes an appearance as a cowboy who eats a pot of sukiyaki. That's right, Tarantino makes an appearance as a man named Pringo (a play on Pierrot and Ringo), this man certainly knows Miike's work and has repeatedly expressed that he is a fan of the acclaimed Japanese director.

Two opposing clans, the Genji and Heiki clans have taken control of a town called Nevada. Nope, this is a Japanese Nevada where the inhabitants' native tongue is English, they`re all Japanese folks with hybrid western-Asian outfits and Japanese monikers. A lone drifter (Hideyaki Ito), who is also very good with a gun, enters the town and is forced to pick a side. The stranger is so skilled that his joining an opposite clan would most likely tip the scales. The two rival gangs (eh, clans) are fighting over a legendary hidden chest of treasure and they have driven out almost all inhabitants except for a woman named Ruriko and the eccentric town sheriff.

scene

Sniff some Kurosawa, inhale some Gosha with a whiff of Okamoto and take 2 tablespoons of Sergio Leone three times a day; and what you have a mixed genre-busting film which blends the grittiness and coolness of spaghetti westerns with the moodiness and atmosphere of chambara/jidai geki films that is the cure for boredom. The film is a push to remind the Italians of the eternal debt they owe to Japanese Samurai films. Put a dash of a Katana sword, a Gatling gun, a lot of dynamite, gunfights and characters that are outrageously cool and you have the perfect recipe for the epitome of Asian cult films with (maybe) mass-mainstream appeal. The films' main premise itself is YOJIMBO-like or "Fistful of Dollars" if you prefer.

The set designs are also quite curious and very creative. The architecture of the buildings are definitely hybrids of Japanese feudal design with the usual western style. Shakespeare's War of Flowers is taken as a code of Bushido (?). The costumes are anime-inspired in their own way with a strong touch of western cinema except for the main character. Legends and mysticism also play a small part in this genre-busting extravaganza. The film definitely crosses all boundaries and the film never limits itself. The action has a touch of hard-boiled cool with the usual bullet ballet and the film's proceedings have the Tarantino-like sly and twisted humor. 

           Bloody Benten

Hideyaki Ito (Uzimaru 2) plays the stranger and the man definitely can pull off the essentials of a mysterious drifter. Kaori Moimoi (Love and Honor) plays a mysterious woman named Ruriko who is the mother of the deceased Akira who was also the husband of sexy Shizuka, played by Yoshino Kimura. This actress exudes raw sex appeal and has the characteristics of an ice-cold femme fatale. The camera work is excellent, Miike assisted by cinematographer Toyomichi Kurita is very impressive. The movements are fluid, facial expressions have a solidarity and the music itself calls a lot of attention.

It is a little weird that Miike would shoot this film with the performers speaking English since I've read that the man grew up watching dubbed Italian films, and disliked it. The delivery in dialogue is somewhat wanting and Miike is a master of movement as displayed in "Izo" and "Dead or Alive". I wanted to watch the film with subtitles and I found myself rewinding a few times to hear the dialogue again just so I won't miss any of the wonderful visuals. Most of the cast mumble almost phonetically and it was obvious that only Yoshino Kimura is the only one really skilled with the English language. The dialogue may hamper the film a little but believe me, not by much.

         scene

The plot itself may be a little too simple and offers not too much for the imagination. Much of the character development occurs in the form of storytelling and flashbacks. The film does exercise more on style over substance but the film is a successful exercise in freedom and versatility. The stunning visuals and camera work surpasses its spirit that some viewers may find the film a bit passive and is too commercially superficial. However, the nice and VERY cool touches in the screenplay hides its shortcomings. The legend of "Bloody Benten" (a woman who can give Lady Snowblood a run for her money), the mystery of Pringo, the duel between a six-shooter and a katana sword, the tale of a young boy and the unknown drifter adds a lot of quality to the film with pure popcorn entertainment. Fans of Asian cinema and Western movies will be busy enjoying the sequences and undoubtedly look for references from other cult films. If you've seen the other genre-breaking film "Versus", you may have an idea of what you're in for. The film has more style than substance, but it is an excellent display of Takashi Miike's more mainstream goals. The film has the crowd-pleasing appeal but will undeniably develop a cult following.

"Sukiyaki Western Django" is a successful blend and fusion of genres that delivers pure enjoyable entertainment, despite the bad English delivery. Takashi Miike has pulled it off again...and forgiven for the "Great Yokai War". (Zebraman anyone?)

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! [4+ stars]

Note: The film is known is also known as "My Life as McMug" in Malaysia. Make certain you see the film with English Subs because while the dialogue is in English, it's a bit hard to make it out. I believe it may have been done intentionally.
The U.S. release will feature multiple covers (including tin covers) and will carry terrific English subtitles.

Also, the U.S. release has been re-edited to 98 minutes, the Japanese original release is 120 minutes. Get the Geneon region-2 Dvd if you are capable of playing discs with different region coding. (U.S. is region-1)

the temptress

Takashi Miike's Genre-Busting POPCORN Extravaganza!! The Drifter Takashi Miike's Genre-Busting POPCORN Extravaganza!! final encounter Genji clan leader the temptress scene Bloody Benten

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December 02, 2010
Oh man one of those great fun flicks, and you know I love QT being in it. Excellent review WP as always, I was thinking of doing one myself since we rewatched it last night.
 
November 14, 2009
I had hoped for the Uncut American release from but no such luck. I did like it nonethless though & would more than likely add this one to my collection or sit through it again. Miike is awesome! Then again, we knew that already. Right? Great job! ;-)
November 16, 2009
You know Miike is awesome! The thing that bothered me with this is that the movie was filmed in English, it would have been great if it utilized a Japanese language track. Thanks, bud!
November 19, 2009
I really don't quite understand that. After all, the name itself implies that the film is going to be a Japanese spaghetti western paying homage to the infamous Django series. I can't believe this film wasn't blessed with a Japanese language track. This is what I call insanity. LOL Ur welcome Pakman.
 
February 17, 2009
I will have to check out your original review just to read that rant again. Actually, getting early is a good decision, the U.S. release was massacred as with "Casshern"...
 
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More Sukiyaki Western Django reviews
review by . December 23, 2010
posted in ASIANatomy
ONE OF THE MOST FUN FILMS EVER
      SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO      Takashi Miike is one of my all time favorite filmmakers and for good reason I think, he makes highly entertaining films. Whether they are pure genius classics or just straight fun and entertaining I have enjoyed them all, from the all time classic "Audition" all the way to this one and beyond. Add in that my favorite filmmaker Quentin Tarantino is in this insanely fun flick and it makes for a great time. Taking …
Quick Tip by . December 23, 2010
posted in ASIANatomy
Caption
This may not be the best movie ever made but it is a runner for most fun for sure, any movie with a scene were one man can catch a sword before it slices into his head and the next man can't [hilarious scene] is great in my book.
review by . July 05, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
A lone gunman rides into a small mining town, where two competing clans are searching for a legendary treasure. If you hadn't seen the original "spaghetti western(s)" this Japanese noodle version riffs off of, then you might be forgiven for thinking it was just plain loopy and incoherent. But if you've seen Sergio Corbucci's Django (which is truly insane, but in a cool way), or even A Fistful of Dollars or the Japanese samurai flick Yojimbo that were inspirations for this attempt to tie the Spaghetti …
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Wiki

Two clans the white genji clan led by yoshitsune and the red heike clan led by kiyomori battle for a legendary treasure in a desolate mountain town. One day a lone gunman drifts into town. Two clans try to woo the lone gunman to their side but he has ulterior motives. Studio: First Look Home Entertain Release Date: 11/11/2008 Run time: 98 minutes Rating: R

The prolific Takashi Miike co-wrote and directed this strikingly postmodern remake of Sergio Corbucci's 1966 Spaghetti Western,Django. The story is much the same, but the highly stylized fusion of Japanese gangsterism and operatic musings on the Western form makes for a wild and unexpected cult movie. Still, there is not much here beyond the film's relentlessly creative surface, makingSukiyakia bit wearying. Feuding for centuries, the Genji and Heiki clans both arrive in a 19th century Nevada town, determined to find hidden treasure rumored to be there. In the midst of their fighting comes a solitary gunslinger (Hideaki Ito) courted by each clan to work for them. When he refuses, the cross-currents of betrayal and murder escalate, and hidden truths behind at least one tragedy, and the real identity of an unlikely shooter, come to the surface. The film's energy, dynamic camerawork and almost tongue-in-cheek performances are fun and admirable, and Miike has a fascinating sense of composition. The story gets a little soft just past the halfway point and Miike attempts to fill the void with exhausting new ways of ...
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Details

Director: Takashi Miike
Genre: Foreign
DVD Release Date: November 11, 2008
Runtime: 98 minutes
Studio: First Look Pictures
First to Review
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