Sukiyaki Western: Django
Even though Takashi Miike's new movie is going to get its US release soon enough, I got a little anxious and got my hands on the original Japanese version. Being a big fan of Miike I was just happy to see another movie from him. That being said, I've tried my best to make this a fair and unbiased review. So yeah... on with the review.
Sukiyaki seems to be heavily influenced by Quentin Tarantino's work. Which makes the fact that he plays a small role in the movie somewhat fitting. The main aspect lifted from Tarantino is the over the top, cheesy B movie feel to certain moments that bring the movie its humor. I actually did laugh out loud a few times during the movie, so it is executed well, yet sadly, not so well that everyone will understand that the movie isn't taking itself seriously. I can see somebody watching the movie all the way through and not realizing the irony, which would completely ruin the entire point, so be careful of that.
One of the big problems I had with this film is that it's all in English. Yes, all the Asian actors speak English. It's hard as hell to understand them some of the times. Because of this I did miss quite a few of the intricacies of the story, so forgive me if I do not present a complete understanding. Yet even with this rather unavoidable handicap the film still shines, and the story is still comprehensible from what is understandable, and what is shown.
The story's outline is basically that their was a legend of a great treasure in a small town. A red colored gang comes to find the treasure, and soon are opposed by the white gang, looking for that same treasure. The town is pretty much abandoned and these two forced reside just a few buildings away. There are a few plot twists and sad moments tossed in for good balance, and overall its a pretty interesting story. It did make me think a little bit with its overall theme and reoccurring messages, but nothing too serious, I expect a second viewing will be needed before I get the big picture, since I had a hard time understanding what was being said the first time, hopefully I can put pieces together the next time.
The real standout in this movie had to be its style and aforementioned humor. The visuals where very eye catching and occasionally quite inspiring. Their was no lack of blood and violence, accompanied by a few pretty sweet action scenes. The last fight scene in the movie was the best and most memorable for sure, both the environment and the actions taking place where a pretty impressive thing to witness. Which brings me to a realization I made about halfway through the movie. It seemed to be very firmly placed in the realm of anime. The style, story telling, characters, designs, and action scenes all reminded me of a good anime. It was the over the top battles, the cheesy dialog, the Japanese village backdrop, and the crazy outfits that really drove that home in my mind. This, is a good thing.
So, in closing, I was impressed by this movie. It was exactly what I had hoped it would be, damned good. But still, It didn't beat some of my other favorite Asian films such as Oldboy, not by any means. It didn't even come close. Yet that is a testament to how amazing Oldboy is, not how lacking Sukiyaki is. Although, the two are completely different in the first place, so I suppose it isn't fair to compare them just because they come from the same region of the world. Each has its own strong points, and neither are lacking in them.
Anyways, Sukiyaki Western Django was a great movie, it had great characters, a bad ass “villain”, and a pretty interesting plot. Don't go in expecting a completely serious movie and you'll really enjoy it. The tone is very dark, yet somehow the movie keeps things mostly funny and light overall. I seriously recommend this movie to those of you who don't mind enduring some very bad English, because its definitely a treat.
Overall score - 8/10