Sukiyaki Western Django (スキヤキ・ウエスタン ジャンゴ) 98 minute international version
Sukiyaki Western Django (スキヤキ・ウエスタン ジャンゴ) Made in: Japan Language: English Director: Takashi Miike Starring: Hideaki Ito, Koichi Sato, Masato Sakai, Kaori Momoi, Yoshino Kimura, Quentin Tarantino Year: 2007
Synopsis: In this bizarre story told in the style of a spaghetti western populated with Japanese characters, a lone gunman (Hideakii Ito) arrives in the desolate town of Yuta. The town is run by two warring factions: the Genji Whites and the Heike Reds.
The gunman offers to join the gang offering the highest payment and best contractual terms. But in reality, he's there to help a prostitute named Shizuka (Yoshino Kimura) take revenge on both sides, which have devastated her life in different ways. Yuta carries a long history of bloodshed, which includes love, lust, secret weapons, legendary warriors, and hidden treasure.
The Good: Sukiyaki Western Django is definitely imaginative, original, and the references to historical events and homage to westerns make it a well thought-out piece. It's a pretty clever blend of cinematic styles, and Takashi Miike deserves points for being brave. Quentin Tarantino is his usual weird self, and is an appropriate addition to the whimsical atmosphere.
Hideaki Ito does a great job as the stoic gunman, and is completely believable. The costumes, sets, and art direction all work to give this film a vivid personality. The actions and stunts are sufficiently stylized/ridiculous, and every character is distinct.
The Bad: I'm not sure it was such a good idea for Takashi Miike to force his Japanese cast to speak English. I understand that he was trying to create a greater sense of authenticity by adopting the typical dialogue found in classic westerns, but the actors were so hard to understand that I had to turn the subtitles on. The delivery of otherwise clever dialogue was really awkward and uncomfortable to listen to after a while.
Some of the bloodier scenes went on for too long, and a lot of the comic relief was pretty flat (or outright annoying). The slower moments caused the movie the drag, and I thought the film should have stuck to a faster pace.
Who would like this movie: Sukiyaki Western Django is for you if you're into foreign films and stylized, comic book-like action. And of course, it'll also help if you have above-average knowledge of Japanese history and old westerns. And even though Quentin Tarantino is a familiar face, there's an element of "artsy-ness" to this movie which might be hard for foreign film newbies to get accustomed to.
(2 and 1/2 stars out of 4) But I have yet to see the extended cut.