A yakuza enforcer is ordered to secretly drive his beloved colleague to be assassinated. But when the colleague unceremoniously disappears en route, the trip that follows is a twisted, surreal and horrifying experience.
A tale of revenge, honor and disgrace, centering on a poverty-stricken samurai who discovers the fate of his ronin son-in-law, setting in motion a tense showdown of vengeance against the house of a feudal lord.
In the ruthless underground world of the yakuza, no one is more legendary than boss Kamiura. Rumored to be invincible, the truth is he is a vampire-a bloodsucking yakuza vampire boss! Among... See full summary »
As sadomasochistic yakuza enforcer Kakihara searches for his missing boss he comes across Ichi, a repressed and psychotic killer who may be able to inflict levels of pain that Kakihara has only dreamed of achieving.
A revolver-wielding stranger crosses paths with two warring clans who are both on the hunt for a hidden treasure in a remote western town. Knowing his services are valuable to either side, he offers himself to the clan who will offer up the largest share of the wealth.Written by
Right before the end-fight it starts to snow heavily for some reason, probably just for aesthetics. However, a thick blanket of snow covers everything except the chest filled with gold-nuggets. No snow seems to have fallen on the chest at all. See more »
[shoots a snake out of the claws of a flying hawk and cuts egg out of it]
[draws his gun on Piringo and whistles appreciatively]
Piringo. Been looking for you. It's the end of the road for you.
What's that sound?
That's the sound of the Gion Shoja temple bells.
You know, those Heike and Genji boys. On a distant island, these to clans split into the Reds and the Whites. Waged a war. Sort of like that, uh, War of the Roses, ya know? In England?
Who won? The Whites?
[...] See more »
The international cut version, shorter by 23 minutes, omits several scenes for pacing reasons and also all the scenes where the big Genji/Minamoto henchman after having his balls shot off develops a crush for his leader Yoshitsune. This version was screened at several film festivals and is featured on most of the DVD releases outside of Japan. See more »
A fistful of ramen - an interesting but not entirely successful east-meets-west experiment
Although it has the deceptive appearance of one and has been championed as such by many reviewers, Sukiyaki is not quite as much a spaghetti western love letter like, say, Alex De La Iglesias' 800 BALAS as it is a typically Miike-ian reinterpretation of the genre that borrows from both chambara and spaghetti western yet subscribes to neither. It's much less a remake or reimagining of Sergio Corbucci's original DJANGO, not a prequel, sequel or in any other way narratively connected to the original or the gazillion unofficial cash-ins small-time Italian producers with dollar signs gleaming in their eyes feverishly churned out in its wake.
What first screams for our attention is the kind of east-meets-west melting pot Miike has prepared for our enjoyment. A signpost on the lone gunman's way reads 'Nevada', the actors speak English with heavy and grating Japanese accents, some of them bear katanas and most others six shooters, the shabby ghost town the movie takes place in is distinctly Japanese in its architecture yet ornamented with dead men hanging from the town gate in typical 'far west' fashion, there's a sheriff, short blurbs about samurais, rumors of hidden treasure and a gold rush explained in a flashback.
However Miike is not attempting what many other directors have tried to in the past, that is to transpose occidental concepts, their mentality or filmic tradition to the oriental or the other way around. This is no RED SUN, EAST MEETS WEST, THE MASTER GUNFIGHTER or A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS to name but a few. What he tries and largely succeeds in creating is this alternative 'far west', a grotesque, exaggerated caricature of the American frontier myth seen through Japanese eyes.
A seamless melding of western and chambara that takes place in a distinctly imagined location. In Miike's vision of the genre west, the (historical naval) battle of Dannoura between the Genji and the Heike takes place close to Quentin Tarantino dressed in a poncho playing a gunfighter called Ringo and is followed a couple hundred years later by a signpost that reads Nevada and the Genji and Heike still split into warring factions. If a country had to be named as the setting for Sukiyaki it would be the United States of Nippon in Sukiyaki's universe, there never was any Japan or America to begin with. A sort of RETCON or 'Retroactive Continuity' as it is known is taking place here. Fans of comic books will be familiar with the myth-making idea here.
It's a damn shame then that a movie as conceptually and aesthetically ambitious as Sukiyaki is let down by a terrible script, Miike's ill-advised decision to have all his actors mumble their way through their lines in distracting Engrish and the pace-clogging inclusion of at least thirty minutes of dead running time that should have been mercifully left to die at the cutting room floor.
There are scenes that don't work at all (such as the unnecessary dance scene) and there are scenes that outstay their welcome by a good number of minutes. And they're all strung together in a painfully mediocre pastiche of a script carrying with it a confused and incongruous mood that can't decide whether it wants to be taken serious, laughed at or laughed with. Quasi-philosophical blurbs are married with ill-advised slapstick nonsense, fortune cookie nuggets of wisdom with lame flashbacks and cartoon-esquire action. There's something for everyone here and everything pushing in different directions at once. On one hand Miike seems to go for an air of sentimental and meaningful profundity while at the same time indulging his nuttier side.
The good in Sukiyaki come in the form of a commendable visual attention to detail and beautiful lighting, the blistering action and the comic book vibe he goes for that recalls the days of FUDOH and DEAD OR ALIVE. While not without the macabre touches we've come to expect from him, Sukiyaki is a decidedly commercial action picture, one that will ironically appeal more to Tarantino and Rodriguez fans than devoted spaghetti western or chambara afficionados.
Perhaps emphasizing that last part, Tarantino has a short role as gunfighter extraordinaire Ringo. In the opening scene that supposedly takes place concomitant with the Battle of Dannoura he whacks pistolero-style three badly dressed goons and mouths off a couple of one-liners.
The scene is amusing at best but he has the show stole from right under his nose by the beautiful and intriguing set design and painted backdrops that recreate an oddly poetic and intentionally artificial rendition of the old west, perhaps recalling the dream sequence Akira Kurosawa created for Tatsuya Nakadai to stagger his way through in KAGEMUSHA or the similarly evocative painted sunsets of DODESUKADEN. I wish Miike had returned to that technique again later in the movie. Instead he uses a short anime passage that recalls KILL BILL. The final showdown in the snow is among the highlights of the movie and so is the appearance of a certain coffin and its contents that will have DJANGO fans nodding in approval.
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