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Mortal Kombat meets The Warriors meets Clockwork Orange meets Kung Fu
Hustle in this East meets West film.
It's the future in "Little Westworld" (an ode to the amazing 1973 film) which is actually an "East-Meets-West-World", stylistically speaking. To prevent utter destruction by Men, guns have been outlawed and society has reverted to the sword....and, well... axes, hatchets, brass knuckles and extremely acrobatic Kung Fu. There is no longer any government, Gangs rule an Ultraviolent Warrior Society where you must KILL your way to the top. Little Westworld is controlled by Nicola the Woodcutter (Pearlman) and his Gang of Killers (of which there is a hierarchy of 10, himself being Killer #1). They keep order by having their henchman- the Red Suits (led by Killer #2, played amazingly by Kevin McKidd)- violently extort the general public, ruling by Fear.
Enter our two lone wolf characters. The Man With No Name (Hartnett) and Yoshi, the Jin Samurai (Gackt- who received more applause than all the other A-list actors at the TIFF Premiere). The Man is a vicious fighter known for having the quickest hands in the west; whose strength and rage is exposed when he sniffs an unlit cigarette. He has no goals or direction, he's just a drifter who wandered into town looking for a game of cards (gambling is banned by the way)- a lone man in a land of ultraviolent gangs. Yoshi is a young Samurai from the East who has been sent on "The Quest" by his father. His mission is to find and retrieve a Dragon Amulet that represents great power for his family...and while he's at it...to become a man.
Seeking information, both men end up in a small bar (with a sort of western/clockwork orange theme), of which is tended by Woody Harrelson- The Bartender, who has a knack for making Pop-Up books. After each individually beats down the biker gang that frequents the bar, their paths cross and the two lone wolves turn eyes toward each other. To get their issues with each other out of the way, The Bartender agrees to moderate an epic atmospheric battle where the two warriors stylistically beat the sh*t out of each other. (fight scene was a bit drawn out for my taste)
The plot develops as The Man is able to gain access to Nicola's weekly poker game. Nicola plays in costume via video link, and despite being cheated, The Man is able to knock out all the other players and obtain a significant chip advantage. Angered, Nicola demands to end the game face to face...if The Man can continue to "beat the odds", that is... Subsequently, Yoshi's Uncle- who runs a sushi restaurant- is being harassed by the Red Suits, and Yoshi's intervention puts him at odds with Killer #2. Things happen, battles ensue, people die, and our two lone wolves realize that they have a common enemy and, thus, could benefit from each others' friendship.
During the poker game, The Man realizes that Nicola has the Amulet that Yoshi seeks. The Man, on the other hand, simply wishes to end the game he started earlier. Throw The Bartender into the mix- as Nicola ended his Warrior career and be-whored the love of his life, Alexandra (Demi Moore)- along with the soldiers of the Proletariat Peasant Uprising- who seek to overthrow Nicola's violent and oppressive rule (their leader looks like Castro!)- and you have a force that is able to take on even the Killers and their army of Red Suits.
As the Peasants battle the Red Suits, our two warriors must slay their way up the hierarchy in order to reach their ultimate matches, vs Killer #2 and Nicola himself. Will good triumph over evil in this epic tale from the future? You'll have to watch it to find out, and trust me...you won't be disappointed.
This is one of the most visually stunning and original films I've ever seen. The opening animation (which gives us the back-story) uses CGI that emulates paper cut-out stop motion in combination with Japanese style Bunraku origami puppeteers, and sets the stage for the aesthetic atmosphere that will absorb the rest of the film. The background scenery has an origami look and feel to it and, as the camera pans over "Little Westworld", the scenery "unfolds" as if it were popping up from pages opening in a pop-up book. Moshe cleverly plays with this idea with The Bartender character. This has an absolutely amazing effect- I've never seen anything like it. It is definitely the atmosphere which makes this film so artistically incredible and visually consuming.
Original, Engrossing Atmosphere, Mind Blowing Action, Wonderful Casting and Acting...all in all this is a pretty awesome film that CANNOT BE MISSED. A Cult Classic waiting to happen. 9 out 10.
After seeing the relatively low rating on this movie I decided to just
give it a go without expecting too much.
Boy was I wrong! One of the most compelling intros I've seen this year, with humor, fast paced storytelling and very, very stylishly done, what's not to like? Well: the story is fast but not so much original. The action is good but didn't quite blow me off my chair. Woody Harrelson is fun, but this role seems to be typecast for him, don't expect too much out of the ordinary. Harnett pretty much copies the role he had in Lucky number Slevin. Gackt makes his debut I think and does so convincingly.
Should you see this movie? Yes! It's beautifully made, switches visual styles, languages and mood a lot and does so convincingly. Just don't expect to many surprises from the writing department. 8/10
I must say at least to all the viewers who expect something else from this movie, you really need to understand what Bunraku is. It's a one word title. That itself tells you what to expect from the movie. With the amazing star-cast, each one does justice to his little role with ease. The script is not demanding so the acting is sombre in accordance with the characters. I really did not know what to expect from this movie and truthfully had to look up the meaning of Bunraku in the end of the film. I was awed with the direction, it takes some really amazing talent to put a script like this on film and gt it interesting. For every penny worth, if I were 10 yeas old, I'd love the movie, I'm 35 now and love it even more. Starting from Pac-Man up to Afro Samurai and from the Wild west to Shichinin no samurai, the Script Writer and Director have left no stone unturned. The movie is very very aesthetically pleasing in context to the title. I remember as kids when we had the pop-up story books, I couldn't have imagined anything better than this movie in my head. The movie may not be for everyone...... But for people who can appreciate the difference from run of the mill animation and Tarantino like action, here a movie worth watching a few times.
Bunraku is as difficult to describe as it is to pronounce. At its heart
is a rather simple story of hero-strangers who roll into an oppressed
town to start trouble with the oppressors. That familiar plot line is
presented as an experimental piece of performance art that keeps you
guessing as to whether or not the story will go quite as you're
If I had to describe Bunraku's presentation, I'd have to liken it to a life-size pop-up comic book being read stylishly aloud on a live stage, though with the freedom of motion and effects afforded by the medium of film.
Bunraku's story seems to merely be a vessel to deliver the style and written nuggets the filmmaker seems much more eager to get off his chest. There isn't much depth of character beyond the pop-up cutouts immediately evident, but there are those bits of dialog and narration that resonate with some philosophical wisdom you might find in an interpretation of a myth or legend.
Assuming you get used to the style, don't mind the intentionally shallow story, and don't feel the need to use the word "pretentious" that the combination of those two things plus a new filmmaker might normally conjure, you won't find much to hate about Bunraku. You'll be reasonably entertained by the constant action and colorful motion, and aside from some occasionally imperfect fight choreography, this is a well-made film.
Its like a hint of sin city and clockwork orange and done very tastefully with believable characters. Bunraku comes from a type of puppetry from japan and the movie was based off that with a unique take and I would not say that it fully reminds of something that has been done before. The plot is very well done if you pay attention and the attention to detail is key. The artistry of the movie was fantastic because I have never seen it introduced as it was done in this film and if you are looking for a lot of violence without it being overly gory. This movie pretty much had it all. There are essentially 4 things I look for in every movie and here's what this has. 1)Story that has never been done before. 2)Great artistry 3)Good acting(believable but did not get lost in the character) 4)Contains love, action (a lot of it) and drama
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had been waiting for this film for some time. As a fan of GACKT, I
had heard about this film from his fan-base, and was pleasantly
surprised when I also read about the inclusion of Woody Harrelson and
Today, I was finally able to see the film, and was startled to see that it was everything I had expected.
The film is decidedly strange, with vivid backdrops reminiscent of the Japanese puppet theater from which it is named. The papery textures are somehow rich and colorful, yet feel as natural as the real world after a short time watching. However, this is more than a paper cut-out world- it has strong elements of impressionism and film noir, with a healthy dash of old-school Western lying on top.
The fight scenes are quite spectacular. They are wonderfully choreographed, and the actors all play their parts in them quite naturally, with distinct styles. GACKT has some background in martial arts, and it is easy to see as he fights- he has a certain grace and precision, while Hartnett is a brawling powerhouse of Western dime novels.
In terms of acting, I was impressed. I was expecting GACKT especially to be awkward, considering his stage personas in music have been very over-the-top and theatrical (not only as a solo act, where he portrays himself as a vampire, but in his past project Malice Mizer where he was known to dress as a woman in true "Visual Kei" style), but in this he was relatively understated, with only a few small distracting moments. His eyes do seem to be a sore point in this- either he is squinting or staring wide-eyed at everything around him. At first it is distracting, but after some time it becomes easier to ignore as one of Yoshi's personality traits and not the actor's. His English is very good, much improved from his earlier film, Moon Child, where it was barely recognizable.
Josh Hartnett, not usually a favorite of mine, seems to have found his calling. His wanderer character seems to fit him like a glove, and the obvious delight he takes in his cigarettes feels very natural and not as contrived as it could with another actor. His secretive, quiet demeanor does not feel forced, and he seems entirely comfortable in the role of Western hero.
Ron Perlman is just excellent as always. His portrayal of the enigmatic Woodcutter gives the clichéd "bad guy" a new life, with complexities under simple evil. His self-destructive and somehow magnetic personality is engrossing, and he never for a moment feels fake, even when delivering lines that would seem overdone with another actor. Perlman's natural gift of lending weight to his words is no less spectacular here.
And of course, Woody Harrelson. Ah, Woody. He plays his witty bartender with a mysterious past with such charisma that it is hard to believe he isn't real. He has a dry humor, which you can catch from time to time in random, wry smiles. He positively glows in every scene. Even when there are fights going on all around him, he remains the center of attention, for good reason. Woody Harrelson gets better with every project he does.
Demi Moore has a part in this, but she is out of her element and feels forced. She comes across as an angsty yet uninteresting character. If she had been flashed out, her circumstances could have been a selling point, but there simply wasn't enough. Hers was a character that was unnecessary, and a waste of Demi's talent.
In terms of plot, this is nothing unusual. It is a reinvention and blending of so many genres that it is barely its own entity, yet somehow it does it in a fresh way that feels familiar, but not stale.
The last point I will make has to do with run time. This is a long film, with many little subplots. Some of these subplots could have been cut entirely, such as the Alexandra (Demi Moore) story, and some of the fleshing out of the "Killers", who never seem to have more than five minutes of screen time anyway, aside from the fascinating and well- played Number 2. I truly believe that this movie should have been cleaned up and condensed, removing approximately twenty to thirty minutes of unneeded dialogue, to make it more tolerable to a wider audience. Some people would certainly get bored or frustrated with some of the needless time.
Overall, this film is a great watch. If you are a film buff, you'll find lots of fun little references and jokes. There is something here for everyone if you give it a fair chance.
What a pleasant surprise! So many symbols, details and colors. This movie is, like it says in the summary - moving pictures. Of course, the comparison with Sin City is inevitable, but this is different. Original. Poetry of composing colorful images. And yet, it still looks like a comic book brought to life. Or a theater of shadows. Or puppets (which is what Bunraku is all about, as a traditional Japanese theater). Everything made of drawings, cardboard and wood, except for some vehicles (Europeans will feel some nostalgia seeing old Fiat 600 and Reanault R8 Gordini) and swords. Surreal and yet very much close to what we imagine as real. Cast is excellent, as well as direction, editing, music and camera. Why not 10 stars then? There are some theatrical element I thing are not adequate for the whole composition. But you don't have to be so picky. Watch it and enjoy the art of making movies as moving pictures.
This stylized action film can best be described as an orgy of the following films: part Sin City, part Batman (Adam West era), part Dick Tracy, part The Quick and the Dead, and part Enter the Dragon. Squirt some Cirque du Soleil in there and the resulting love child of all these films is "Bunraku". That's really all I can say. Watch it and tell me if I'm wrong. There are parts of this film that are extraordinary, namely the animation, while other segments (or appendages?) are atrocious. It all makes sense in a mad scientist kind of way, where this creature of a film was cooked up in Dr. Frankenstein's Laboratory School of Film, Dance, and Animation. It's ludicrous, but very entertaining. I give it 7 full test-tubes of film DNA out of 10!
I really can't understand why those bad reviews about this movie, this
was a great entertainment, never been bored for 2 hours. This could
just have been directed by Tarantino, nobody would have noticed and
everyone would loved it. The story is imaginative, i mean this is not
just the story of a a young man who has spent his life searching for
revenge like stated in the plot line. (i will not spoil but the
beginning says it all). Also the acting is great, every role is
carefully, naturally and so damn well interpreted. Demi Moore was a bit
unlucky about that not very interesting character, and in my humble
opinion like stated before kind of a waste of Demi's talent. Anyway i
would even say theatrical, with Kevin McKidd's performance. If i could
choose a mix of films to describe this one i would say: Sin City + Kill
Bill + A Clockwork Orange + Dark City ...all with a nice perfume of old
japan vs wide west western.
Quite an interesting movie,set in kind of an origami environment which
is quite unique,has some shiny action moments.......a movie which in my
honest opinion had some exquisite potential but got ruined by poorly
written scenario,typecast roles for actors that could present much
more. Watchable but don't expect some Oscar movie going around....
It may disappoint you or you may even like it.Actors like Woody Harrelson,Demi Moore,hell even Josh Hartnett could give a lot more if properly stimulated with a good screenplay...yet they give them cheesy roles like these.Maybe the idea here was to go with the cheesy but in the end - mediocre with a hint of originality.
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