Sukiyaki Western Django (2007) Poster

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Gunslinger poetry
K_Todorov18 February 2008
If Sergio Leone's Once Upon A Time is considered an ode to the American Western with all it's fundamental elements all packed neatly in an 3 and a half hour package of visual splendor than Takashi Miike's Sukiyaki Western Django is an ode to the Italian Western through and through with all the style, violence and sound that Leone brought to the art of cinema and Sergio Corbucci used to create his most famous work "Django". A visual feast, Miike's tribute to Corbucci's work is the poetic equivalent of Tarantino's own tribute to the Italian Western (and some other cult genres) Kill Bill.

Set around, in a strikingly offbeat way to, the 12th century Heike/Genji clan wars Sukiyaki Western Django is the tale of a mysterious gunman (played by Hideoki Ito) who comes into a nearly deserted once prospering town now controlled by the two rival groups. In a sense this is the Italian West going back to its roots, it's no secret Leone was greatly inspired by the works of Akira Kurosawa with Yojimbo serving as the blueprints for the maestro's own breakthrough with A Fistful of Dollars. Corbucci's own Django used the same basic premise and now Miike follows. After some flashy display of skill, and some attempts from the two clans to persuade him to join one of them the Gunman is persuaded by Ruriko one of the few residents who remain to help the townspeople. A series of flashbacks reveal much of the background and motives behind the two clans arrival. They also open the pathway to a subplot revolving around a tragically destroyed Genji/Heike family which plays a major part in the main plot. For those of you who deem themselves Tarantino fans will have much to be happy about as Tarantino plays a bad-ass, poncho-wearing gunslinger named Ringo who introduces us to the Heike/Genji conflict and plays an important part later on.

Style is of the essence and style is what Sukiyaki has. Though a tribute to Django this is nevertheless pure Miike cinema, expect that same weird humor, surreal kinetic action, with some sexual cues (although much restrained compared to some of his previous endeavors) he's become renowned for. It's a non stop joy ride beautifully shot, the impressive set design and backgrounds, the great costumes and yes a machine gun in coffin scene, pure poetry. This is not about realism, it is not about creating a believable world but about a world that responds to the mood that adapts according to it. The final showdown represents a collision of two worlds, two genres it is the ultimate fusion of samurai and western films, the duel between the gun and the sword. There are some lovely little references only noticeable to the more vigorous Django fans, and a truly awesome ending.

What might be my only gripe with Sukiayki is the choice of language. Having the Japanese cast speak in broken-down English does sort of lessen the experience not by much comparing to some of the horrendous English dubs in some Italian Westerns but still it would have been preferable using a Japanese language track with an optional English one. That's to say the dialogue itself is a pastiche of noticeable one-liner clichés, over the top silly yet listening to entire dialogues stitched together from over used lines has a remarkably refreshing effect on those lines.

Koji Endo composes the soundtrack, it is not his first time working with Miike and hopefully won't be the last. For the film he combined, the typical Morricone-sque western music with that of the Japanese samurai flick in a modern just lightly rock adaptation.

Sukiyaki Western Django pays homage to what is now a dead genre. Dead but not forgotten. Not by Takashi Miike who uses the tools of the Italian Western to bring forth his own vision, his own take on a story well known and loved and it is a true gem.
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Yojimbo redone as a western (japanese style).
mmushrm18 February 2011
Reading some of the reviews, I am surprise that others are confused as to the story. It is basically a samurai movie made as a Japanese western with Japanese cowboys instead of samurais. The story is almost the same as Yojimbo/A Fistfull of dollars. Stranger comes into town and gets the 2 opposing gangs to start killing each other. The difference being he has a sidekick in the kick ass Bloody Benten (female gunslinger). I think what makes everyone go "huh?" is its rather confusing opening with Quentin Tarantino and also the dialogue in heavily Japanese accented and enunciated English. It is rather jarring and does distract from the story. However if you have watched enough undubbed samurai movies you will be familiar with the style and delivery of the dialogue so the distraction goes away. The movie is nothing original but based on it simply being a gunfight movie its not bad.
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Very good film that swings from the dramatic to the ridiculous
kyussisgod13 September 2007
If you've seen "High Plains Drifter", "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" any other Leone films or "spaghetti westerns" you will appreciate this film. (I guess this is an "udon western"? Sorry, I had to throw that in there.) For those who have not, you may not understand why the film goes to such extremes throughout the scene sequences. Everything from the bumbling sheriff to the mindless and spineless random gang characters as well as the leader of the 'reds', offer comedic escapades that are quite hysterical. Then we swing to the very dramatic and tragic scenes of loss, murder, pillaging and revenge. Japanese themes and references are inherent because the director is well...Japanese! The dialogue is all English and purposely so. I'm not sure if this was for comedic reasons or to reach out to a larger audience, but it is effective and an interesting choice on Miike's part. It is subtitled which, depending on how you view it, either detracts or adds to the film. It does help in some cases, but in my opinion, I think it would have been better to leave it out altogether. Overall, its a very fun film but expect to be taken up and down emotionally. Production, cinematography, scenery, costumes, art direction and sound design aren't even worth mentioning because they're all done so well, you don't notice them. Its about as close as you can get to a Western-Samurai Japanese-Western!
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Read this before you side with all the negative reviews . . .
Jacques9827 September 2008
I'm not entirely sure I understood the plot of Sukiyaki Western Django, mainly because I couldn't understand the dialogue very well, but I still can say it's unlike anything I have ever seen. In a time when ridiculously unoriginal films are hailed by critics and average viewers alike, it's great to see something truly different come to the screen. Sukiyaki Western Django takes the oldest subgenre in American cinema, the western, and spins it until it is original again—and it works.

I have never been a Takashi Miike fan at all, honestly. I have only seen this and Audition, but Audition was boring and cliché enough for me never to give him a second thought. Sukiyaki Western Django, however, shows his true capability as a director and that he isn't just another run-of-the-mill carbon copy like I originally thought after viewing Audition.

Sukiyaki Western Django is very dialogue heavy, but it still packs a lot of action and a lot more character deaths than is standard for this type of film. People are calling this movie gory, but it isn't. The blood is pretty generic and typical, though maybe a little more than your standard action flick. This didn't really disappoint me as much as it does in other movies, because blood isn't really needed in Sukiyaki Western Django. It carries itself with style and a lot of intense action.

I think the reason this film is getting so many negative reviews is because people don't get it. You really have to be a fan of the genres it imitates to understand it fully, even though the plot is simple. Two rival gangs, and one man, a gunslinger, they both need. The rest is a mix between action and art that simply stunned me. The town itself is so diverse it almost becomes its own character, and in a way it is. The aesthetic of some of the action scenes go so much further than the typical slow-mo Matrix rip-off you're used to and really creates a style all its own. The technical beeps in the background gave off a really cool surreal, modern feel that isn't overdone or annoying.

The acting worked for the genre, even though most of it is terrible and hard to understand. The entire Japanese cast, minus Tarantino, worked because they all spoke English, which just added to the cool-weirdness. I'm sure if your high school English class tried to analyze every figurative detail it would take weeks. Just put it this way: as far as the formula goes, Sukiyaki Western Django is both original and complex to the point of insanity. I simply cannot understand how this is by the same man who wrote/directed Audition.

Overall, I'm going to quote something I heard someone say after they viewed Sukiyaki Western Django: "Well, that was different, but I wouldn't call it entertaining." That is the view a lot of people are going to have, and I can't deny people will think that just because I personally disagree with it. It comes very close to being too top-heavy with aesthetic for its own good, but, for me, it was still very entertaining and awing. I can't say anything else except that you need to see this and make up your own mind. It is original, that's not my opinion, and if you're like me and enjoy more than the typical Hollywood movie you MUST see this. If you can care less about originality and just want another typical western you've seen time and time again, don't bother.

It really matters what your opinion on entertainment is. But I loved it.

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Awesome with subtitles
seriousbusiness4719 June 2009
A strange movie, I must say. But before I go into the movie itself, I feel the need to talk about the case.

That's why I actually bought this movie, originally. Because the case was so...pretty. And Quentin Tarantino's name on it sealed the deal for me. The cover design is so well done and beautiful and artistic and many other synonyms of those, which provides the perfect segue into the movie itself.

It starts out with, of all people, Quentin Tarantino. The background is noticeably fake, a setting sun over the horizon painted onto a backdrop. I was a bit taken aback, at first, and I never really understood why, but I rolled with it. With the first words spoken, however, it became painfully apparent what this movies main problem would be.

You see, despite the fact that almost all of the cast uses Japanese as their primary language (I haven't verified this, but it's pretty obvious), the filmmaker, Takashi Miike, shot the whole thing in English. Thankfully, there are subtitles, but the lack of understandable speech presents a great barrier. It's basically the story of two clans, the Heike, led by Kiyomori/Henry (Kōichi Satō), and the Genji, led by Yoshitsune (Yūsuke Iseya), that are battling over a town for a fabled treasure. A mysterious stranger (Hideaki Ito) rolls into town, much like Clint Eastwood in those old movies that we love oh-so-much. This is a beautifully done movie, with many breathtaking scenes, exciting, lovable characters (for the most part), and plenty of blood and gore. Oh, and a rape, so keep the kiddies away from this one.
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A fistful of ramen - an interesting but not entirely successful east-meets-west experiment
chaos-rampant19 November 2008
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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Disappointing on every level...kinda a crapfest
pro-life25 February 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I was really looking forward to this movie for months now. The idea of Japan's most internationally famous directors making an English language western sounds like a must see. Well...

Language was my first problem. You can tell that just about every actor doesn't know how to speak English, and that his/her lines were fed to them. I'd guesstimate that no more than 30 minutes out of the nearly 2 hour long movie were action scenes, so this movie was very full of dialog and story....only I could understand maybe %20 of it. It's really bad, probably as bad when Quentin Tarantino speaks little bits of Japanese in this film to a native Japanese speaker. Except this wasn't a few lines, but the whole movie being broken English. In Sukiyaki Western, the Language gets in the way of the story telling(I had no idea what was happening a lot of the time), and the acting. I'd much rather have had Japanese dialog with English subtitles...or at least English subtitles anyway, which were not available to me.

The language is really a minor issue for me, because the whole movie itself was pretty poor. The script was simple and bland. I think they dumbed down the dialog to make it easier on the actors, because it was something I could have written up in the time it took to watch the film. Also, there were many failed attempts at humor. The jokes failed because the actors could not deliver them naturally.

There was no character development, I didn't care about ANY person in the whole movie. The hero, if you can call him that, is a completely unneeded character. Another thing, and I don't consider this a spoiler....every single character in the whole movie was a blubbering a bad guy from a Saturday morning kids show.

The action was minimal, and the finale didn't do anything for me at all.

The costumes. Yeah a couple of the leaders looked cool, aka they looked like members of a J-Rock band. None of the clothing was authentic, and I don't think it was supposed to be, but I thought the red Old Navy neck sweater on one dude was too much. The white gangs' leader dude wouldn't take much work to look like a hot girl.

To it's credit, there was some cool style and cinematography going on, and if the whole movie was like the first 5 minutes, minus Quentin because he's a bad actor, This movie would have been awesome.

It should have been 90 minutes, tops. It should have been awesome stylized action with heads rolling and arterial spray, then the bad acting, script and story could be overlooked. Instead it was 2 hours with tons of bad jokes and a few unsatisfying shootouts.

I wanted to like it, and i know a lot of you people spending $50 on a Japanese import DVD might feel obligated to....but this was just a poorly made movie.
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Lone ranger rides into the town, where two gangs wedged war against each other over a secret treasure. Which side will he choose?
azzy-200012 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO" is the ideal cure against western of any kind. It has it all - including even queer cowboys and Gatling machine gun (hello, "3:10 to Yuma"!). And much more than that: war of White and Red Roses, Gollum for a sheriff, chest, full of gold, old lady - gunfighter (who happened to be also animated eight-handed woman and Quentin Tarantino's lover), Tarantino himself, rather weather-beaten and riding steampunk-crafted wheelchair, raining bullets, Japanese mountains in the autumn, fight in the snow and so on. Just imagine "Kill Bill" cut to 2 hours, without all the dull stuff but with all the goods delivered straight to the point. Everything funny, hysterical, strange and enchanting you can squeeze out of old good Westerns plus amazing Japanese aesthetics (watch the leader of Whites. The Red is fun too, but, my gosh, White is amazing!) plus non-stopping action plus brilliant choreography - in short, it's your regular must see. 12 out of 10.
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Miike's fusion of cowboy westerns and Samurai drama is a delicious treat...
jmaruyama17 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
When one thinks of the cowboy Western names like John Ford, Sam Peckinpah, Howard Hawks and John Huston might come to mind but Japanese new wave and cult director Miike Takashi would probably be the last person you would think of being on that list, that is until now. With his recent "Sukiyaki Western Django" Miike pays loving tribute to the western genre and infuses it with his own unique spin and a decidedly Japanese flair.

Set in what appears to be a dusty post-apocalyptic wasteland, the story deals with a bitter rivalry between two vicious clans - the brutal Heike (whose color emblem is a bloody scarlet red) and the flashy Genji (whose banners are a snow colored white). They have taken over a remote mountain village in a region oddly called "Nevada" (using Japanese Kanji equivalents).

Both factions have learned of a mythic gold depository in the surrounding area and have torn the village apart to find it but to no avail. The local inhabitants have long since fled and those that have stayed behind have been living in terror ever since.

A mysterious gun fighter with no name (Ito Hideaki) rides into town and offers his services to the clan who offers to pay him the most. While both clans make tempting bids, the gun fighter rejects both offers and is instead swayed to hold off joining either faction by the town's salon madam, Ruriko (Momoi Kaori).

Ruriko tells the stranger of how the town was taken over by the clans and how her son, Akira was killed by them. Akira was a former Heike clan member who had fallen in love with the beautiful Shizuka (Yoshino Kimura), a member of the rival clan. They had hoped that their union would help encourage peace between the two clans but instead Akira is murdered by the Heike's ruthless leader Kiyomori (Sato Koichi).

Devasted she returns to her clan with her young child Heihachi, where she is forced to become a harlot to the clan's charismatic and mercurial leader Yoshitsune.

As the conflict comes to an impasse both sides scheme at how to gain the upper-hand. Kiyomori tells his clansmen that it is divine destiny that they will win the conflict and sites Shakespeare's "Henry VI" and the English conflict of the "War of the Roses" (where the red side wins) as his bible. He is so sure of this that he adopts the name "Henry".

On the Genji side, Yoshitsune has found the location of a hidden cache of weapons including a functioning Gatling gun which he hopes will give his clan the advantage. He sends his chief henchman, Benkei (Ishibashi Takaaki) to retrieve the weapon.

The gun fighter learns of this plan from Shizuka and relays the information to the Heike clan.

For her betrayal Shizuka is brutally murdered by the Genji clan and the gun fighter is severely injured. Nursed back to health the gun fighter teams up with Ruriko, who reveals herself to be the legendary gun fighter "B.B." who was a protégé of one of the first western gunmen in Japan, "Bingo" (cameo by Quentin Tarantino) to destroy the clans and bring peace to the town.

Miike and screenwriter NAKA(Masa)MURA borrow liberally from other westerns particularly the landmark "Italiano-Westerns" of Sergio Leone (Fist Full of Dollars, The Good, The Bad & The Ugly") and Sergio Corbucci (Django) as well as the so-called "Acid-Westerns" of Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo) but adds in his own unique aspects and New Wave flourishes to create a Japanese version of the classic western albeit with a decidedly Japanese look and feel. The name is both a play on "spaghetti" (Italian) westerns and an anecdote where "sukiyaki" (Japanese nabemono or "stew") combines various elements in a pot.

Much has been said of Miike's decision to script the dialog entirely in English but I think the cast should be commended for actually pulling off what might have turned into a comical disaster. It also helped that Miike had the good fortune of hiring actors who have either lived or studied extensively abroad.

Ito Hideaki (Crossfire, Limit of Love-Umizaru) plays the titular Clint Eastwood role as the "man with no name"/gun fighter. His performance is good but one note as he doesn't really have much range and his lines are minimal. Sato Koichi (Cheerful Gang Turns The Earth, Tennen Kokekko) is pure evil as "Taira No Kiyomori" who fancies himself after Shakespeare's "Henry VI". His performance brings to mind Mifune Toshiro's Kikuchiyo in "Seven Samurai" (manic, bestial, and cocksure of himself).

Fashion model turned actor Iseya Yusuke (Casshern, Memories of Matsuko) turns in another fantastic performance as the vicious yet wickedly handsome "Minamoto No Yoshitsune", a man who fancies himself as the embodiment of the Japanese "Samurai spirit". Iseya is quickly making a name for himself playing quirky roles and whose intensity and presence reminds me a lot of the late Heath Ledger.

London born Yoshino Kimura (Sakuran, The Backdancers) brings much passion, dignity and raw sexuality to her part as the tragic Shizuka. Momoi Kaori (Bounce No Ko Gal, Memoirs of a Geisha), who was also educated in London, is clearly at home with the English dialog and turns in a terrific performance as Ruriko.

Ishibashi Takaaki (one half of 80s comedy duo "Tunnels")steals the spotlight as Yoshitsune's sexually ambiguous henchman as does Kagawa Teruyuki (HERO, Tokyo.Sora) as the cowardly and opportunistic sheriff who seems almost possessed at times.

Following the heals of great modern western-themed movies and remakes of late like "No Country for Old Men" and "3:10 To Yuma", Miike's "Sukiyaki Western Django" is a fun and unique take on the western and as it's name suggests offers a clever take with a Japanese bent. Like trendy Asian "fusion" cuisine, "Sukiyaki" takes the best of both worlds and offers up something new yet oddly familiar. Bon appetite!
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Needs Tarantino-Echtomy
cashiersducinemart13 September 2007
The line between Japanese samurai films and Italian Westerns (called "spaghetti" in the West and "macaroni" in the East) has been blurry from the days of Akira Kurosawa and Sergio Leone. The widescreen expanses of 19th Century lawlessness was a cinematic language easily translated between chambara and Euro oaters.

Prolific filmmaker Takashi Miike forgoes the pasta and dubs his dabbling in the horse opera a "sukiyaki" western. This Japanese stew-like metaphor is appropriate as Miike throws in a great number of influences and references into his dish. What cooks up may bear the name "Django" (and he introduces a coffin hiding a machine gun midway through the film) but it owes more to Kurosawa than Corbucci in its acknowledged inspiration from YOJIMBO. The unnamed black clad antihero rides into a previously thriving town to find it a wretched hive of scum and villainy; occupied by a handful of citizens and two warring clans, the Genji and Heike.

Clad in red and white, Miike injects some heavy duty rose overtones into the film, calling out the War of the Roses, Henry VI, and a hybrid rose bush named "love" quite frequently. At least two of the film's characters are products of Genji (red) and Heike (white) love affairs.

Even with a wealth of past ideas to pilfer, SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO can't sustain itself for its full two hour running time. Things slow down about an hour into the proceedings. In order to inject some life into the faltering action, Miike breaks into the cartoon sound effects library and attempts to make SWD a life action anime film. These instances feel completely out of place, even after the highly stylized pre-credit sequence starring living cartoon character Quentin Tarantino.

It's strange with actors speaking English as a second language (for the most part) and who muddle through some tricky pronunciations (thank goodness for the English subtitles) that the worst performance of the film comes courtesy of a native English speaker. Quentin Tarantino seems to be doing some kind of Western drawl crossed with a fluctuating German accept as if channeling a drunk Klaus Kinski through a faulty connection. Tarantino's embarrassing "acting" may be brief but every second he spends on screen is excruciating.

Sure to be a hit with every hipster who has never seen an Asian in a cowboy hat (allow me to recommend TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER and THE NEW MORNING OF BILLY THE KID), SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO could do with some tightening up and a complete Tarantino-echtomy.
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SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO (Takashi Miike, 2007) **
Bunuel197618 March 2009
This is further proof that cult Japanese director Takashi Miike is not for me: as can be deduced from the title, the film is a pseudo-homage to the Italian Spaghetti Westerns (though Django has almost nothing to do with it!). In fact, the plot is yet another rehash of Japanese master Akira Kurosawa's samurai classic YOJIMBO (1961), which had actually led to Sergio Leone kick-starting the Spaghetti Western subgenre with that film's first remake A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964)! Anyway, for Miike, this is typically violent fare – even more pointless than usual and all rather amateurishly assembled; besides, having the actors speak English results in unintentional laughter more than anything else (though Quentin Tarantino's absurd cameo is no less embarrassing: incidentally, I may well have been witness to the genesis of the picture back when these two mavericks 'butted heads' at the 2004 Venice Film Festival!). Needless to say, the squalid atmosphere peculiar to European Westerns is largely missing here…but, then, neither does the film extract particular benefit from its own country's heritage! With characterization tending towards mere posture (when it is not insipid), we are left with a clutch of stylized-but-hollow action sequences to grab the attention – all of which, ultimately, leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Perhaps mercifully, the version I watched is the shorter (by 23 minutes) International Cut.
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Gempei War meets Yojimbo
moond0g17 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Spoiler Note: as this movie is a remake, the spoiler here will not be a surprise to anyone who has seen Yojimbo or any of the earlier remakes.

I saw Sukiyaki Western Django (SWD) opening night in Kobe. It wasn't really my cup of ocha, as movies go, but I was impressed by the look of the movie, especially the opening sequence with Tarantino which has a bit of a manga feel, as mentioned in a thread on the board for this movie. I especially liked the sky right at the start. My biggest criticism is for the dialog. I'm not sure it was what they said or just how it was delivered, but it came off very stilted.

It's a very ambitious movie and is interesting in that it's more than just a Japanese remake of the Italian movies "Django" and "A Fistful of Dollars" (AFOD) which were remakes of the Japanese movie "Yojimbo." It's a conflation of Yojimbo/Django/AFOD story and and Gempei War which ended with the battle of Dan no Ura in 1160.

That war was between the Taira (or Heike), whose color was red, and the Minamoto (or Genji), whose color was white and those colors also figure predominately in SWD. Characters in the movie also share names with the leading figures in that War (Yoshitsune, Kiyomori, Benkei, etc.) although not in any logical way that could be discerned in a single viewing other than their association with either the White or Red sides.

The two colors are represented by roses though I cannot say that that comes from the War of the Roses as suggested by an earlier poster. Perhaps they did--I won't dispute it.

The Gempei War ended in a victory for the Whites (uniting all of Japan under one central power for the first time) unlike the movie where it seems to be a draw (or, more precisely, both sides lost).

I wondered if the (mostly) red rose at the end of the movie with the white background of snow was supposed to represent the flag of Japan which is also red and white--colors that have been used to represent Japan ever since the Gempei War.

Is it a 'good' movie? If the dialog were better, I'd say yes. However, as it is, I have to say I cannot recommend it to anyone other than hardcore fans of the spaghetti western & samurai genres or "Kill Bill" fans. Among those groups, I'm sure it will find fans.
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Cowboy Miike
doug-69713 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
You can always be guaranteed in a Takashi Miike movie of seeing things that you've never seen before. I just saw Sukiyaki Western Django at the Toronto Film Festival and it continues that tradition.

This is Miike's take on the American Cowboy Western and it was fun to see what he does with it. It appears to take place in the middle of a war, but I could not tell if this was a real historical war and whether it is a Japanese war. But it's fought with guns not swords and dressed as cowboys instead of samurai. He's taken the essence of the western, takes it to extremes and adds his own unique Miike humour.

All the actors were speaking English. Only the female actress spoke perfect English; the others spoke it with an accent, although I could understand what they were all saying. It was also accompanied by sub-titles in English. When it comes out on DVD, I would probably turn off the sub-titles. Also I hope they don't consider dubbing with American actors. It would ruin the movie. I quite enjoyed listening to them speak English in their own voices even with (or maybe because of) the accent.

Quentin Tarantino makes a significant appearance and is quite funny and at times unrecognizable. It mixes in with the rest of movie and doesn't feel like just a "guest appearance".

I quite enjoyed this movie. When will Miike do a Hollywood musical?
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Well, It's Fresh
Michael_Elliott14 November 2008
Sukiyaki Western Django (2007)

** (out of 4)

Quentin Tarantino in a Takashi Miike homage to Spaghetti Westerns is going to be enough to get a few curious people to watch but I must rip off a few reviews I've read, which called this film different but not very entertaining. In what's basically a remake of Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo, a mysterious gunfighter (Ito Hideaki) with no name shows up and plays two rival gangs against one another. If someone was to call this the greatest movie ever made I honestly wouldn't argue with them. I'm sure many are going to watch this film and consider it a masterpiece and I would respect their opinion just about as much as I respect Miike for trying something like this. However, the movie just didn't work for me. This is basically an incredibly bizarre homage to countless Westerns done in a way that Tarantino pays homage to various genres in this country but I might go a step further and say Miike is much more original than Tarantino has ever been. I think this film, for what it is, is incredibly original and at times visually brilliant but as much credit as I give to Miike I have to give him just as much blame. For some reason he felt it would be a good idea to have the Japanese actors speak English, which was a deadly mistake. Sure, this adds a surreal nature to the film but the problem is that a lot of the times you can't understand what they're saying. This film is full of dialogue and when you can't understand a quarter of it then you're going to be in trouble. This also effects the performances as the spoken dialogue is just as bad as watching a dubbed Kurosawa film. As is to be expected, the movie is full of violence but most of it is done in a comical way and that includes one man getting shot up while his wife holds his dying body. Tarantino doesn't add too much to the film either. In the end this is a film I highly respect but there's just no way I will ever find myself watching it again.
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Sergio Leone, but with udon!
ken-58314 February 2008
It's difficult to categorize this film -- or, I should say, to pigeon-hole it. I suppose the closest way to describe it would be as a recipe: One part Spaghetti Western, one part Moulin Rouge revisionist fantasy extravaganza, and one part Kurosawa epic.

Whatever the case, I found it to be an utterly delicious experience! The director has created a film rife with clichés -- both literary and visual -- yet, somehow, managed to make them all seem original and unexpected and delightful! I smiled, laughed, and giggled my way through this film -- I have a strange feeling that this one is going to be around for a LONG time...
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Bored to death.
joekats16 June 2009
OK not to death (i cant be reviewing this from Hades) but certainly to sleep. When i rent this film i knew already that it wasn't a standard western. I expected a highly stylised movie with surrealistic elements and perhaps humour. Well none of those happened at least in the right way. I liked the idea of a Japanese influenced western. No problem with that. The language also didn't annoyed me that much since all the films in Greece have subtitles. It rather was on the good side of weirdness of this film.

The problem was with the plot. There wasn't any!! At least one that made sense! A gunslinger walks in a village torn between two gangs searching for gold. Thats it! Nothing more! Its absolutely childish and SLLLLLLLOW. OK you may think that many fun films have week plot which they match with great action. Well not here people.. The action shots are nothing special and many times they don't even show the result of the action. There is not even the extra gore element present, to spice things up. The performances had nothing special. Including Tarantino who propably was there just to have fun and get some bucks also.

I was thinking to see this in cinema, but thank god i had no time then. I rent it so they only fooled me in losing 2 euros. I fell asleep for 10min while watching it (wasnt even tired that day) and i didn't got back to see what i missed. That says a lot.
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oh, it's one of THOSE...
dschlatter6 May 2010
there is a chance that this movie is great and that i'm actually the idiot who just couldn't see all its good qualities. there is that chance.. well, i seriously doubt it.

here's why: i get a movie, that wants to be funny and cruel at the same time. 'severance' and 'shaun of the dead' would be a good example. or 'very bad things'. (i'm really not squeamish, when it comes to pitch-black humor)

but django? the scene when the mother gets raped and watches her son cry over the corpse of his dad? that's (sorry) too damn cruel to go with all those unbelievably stupid red-gang scenes. other scenes are just silly (but not in a funny way) and therefore unnecessary. the schizo, for example. or the sheriff: out of the blue he shoots the female gunfighter in the shootout. why is that in the movie? i could go on and on... but i won't.

it is one of THE worst movies that i've seen. just writing about it pisses me off once again...

i will tell you one strenght of the movie though: the cinematography (beautiful pictures), the camera-work (great shots) and the costumes. the perfect setup. what the crew should have done was get another director (a sane one, please. preferably one with an intact soul)and a new script and start over.

OK, i'm done.
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the power of the western
tmwest15 September 2008
This film makes us realize what a powerful genre is the western. It is so powerful that it left its American roots and became universal. I understand why the actors in this movie speak English, you can't accept any other language. Even the Leones and Corbuccis are dubbed in English. It comes to my mind a famous Brazilian composer who sings about playing cowboys as a child, and his horse would only speak English. There are references in the film about TGTBTU, Django, Fistful, Once Upon a Time in the West,My Darling Clementine(Shakespeare) but the one that touched me the most was about "Duel in the Sun", a film that tends to be neglected nowadays. Apparently making fun of the westerns Sukiyaki has a lot of tragedy as it tells the story of the rival clans, in a time and place where there is not much value in human life. There are great tragic comic scenes like when a man tries to catch a sword that is going through his head, or when an enormous hole is made on a man. Tarantino is very funny with his Japanese fake accent. The shootouts are absolutely great.
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Recommended Only For Those Who've Seen EVERYTHING
FightingWesterner6 September 2009
Imagine an American Western drowned in spaghetti sauce, chewed up and regurgitated by a Japanese. That's pretty much what happened here.

Sukiyaki Western Django takes place in an alternate universe where nineteenth-century Nevada is populated entirely by the Japanese and the only white man around is Quentin Tarantino!

This is colorful (figuratively and literally) and action packed with great production values but the whole thing's just too gimmicky and cute for it's own good. Like seemingly all Japanese movies these days, it's self-indulgent as hell. This tries hard to be a cult film by pandering to film nerds and fanboys, the most easily impressed people on the planet.

This wasn't thrilling or exciting and I never really connected to any of it's characters, probably due to the language problem. Having all the actors speak simplified English was a mistake. This would have been better dubbed or in Japanese with subtitles. Hell, I had to turn on the subtitles anyway!

What I would really like to have seen was director Takashi Miike attempt to make a real western with an American cast. It would probably be better than the ones Ang Lee attempted!

Go watch the REAL Django!
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Self indulgent clap trap
BrianSewell25 September 2008
This is a piece of self indulgent rubbish that only attracts other self indulgent people (hence the appearance of Mr Tarantino). This film is also loved by Manga geeks that think the genre can pan out in a 'live action noodle western'. The fact that the entire cast had elocution lessons from the 'Backward, forward speaking Dwarf' from Twin Peaks and the wardrobe advice from a misguided Japanese tourist should put you off even picking up this piece of trash. If you want to see a good western, get the Leone ones. I predict that this film will be in the bottom of the Bargain bins before I finish typing this. Any film with the line ''Do her here, upsteeaaars'' firmly belongs in a recycle bin. Don't buy or rent this rubbish.
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An Unworthy Opponent
tedg13 July 2011
Sometimes a film presents itself to you as a character, whole in definition, with whom you have to deal. This is possible either because the film has a soul that the artist has created, or because the filmmaker borrows one by hijacking a genre. That is what Miike has done here. Though some of his other experiments sit well with me, this does not.

Dealing with such a character is not a simple emotional (and sometimes intellectual) transaction. Sometimes it is a struggle, a contest where each party wants to pull the other into their own world. Even these than be worthwhile, but the chances go way down; motives get questioned, selves get examined when you have to struggle.

I saw this together with 'Rango.' Same strategy, and even many of the same references. But as thin as Rango was, it presented a worthy character. Whether you choose to argue or even try to win is up to you. But at least you should choose your encounters wisely.

Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
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Let's have some fun!
Polaris_DiB23 December 2008
Warning: Spoilers
In a way, everything Takashi Miike makes from here on out could easily be considered fan service. That's partially because he has fans that wouldn't be disappointed no matter what he does (from the straight street dramas of the Black Society Trilogy to the messy violence of his more famous cult classics and lately to the more surreal works of "Big Bang Love, Juvenile A" and "Zebraman"), and partially it's because nobody really has a handle one what he's doing except that it's bizarre. So how does one tell a good Miike movie from any other one? How kick-ass it is. Yup, sometimes it just boils down to that.

"Sukiyaki Western Django" is a boiled mish-mash of various conceits and approaches, an almost chaotic display of Western bravado meets mixed-genre in-jokes. With Quentin Tarantino and a brief animated display, nonetheless. However, what makes it really work are those things that wouldn't have worked if it wasn't half the point: the broad widescreen of Sergio Leone--used to show a color-corrected Japanese landscape that looks nothing like the West; the Man with No Name approaching a nearly empty gold mining town--made in Japanese architecture complete with the man hanging off of the rectilinear entry-gate; set in a dry universe of gun-play and whiskey--that suddenly turns to rain and snow once the violence and vengeance comes reigning from the sky. Yup, the point isn't to make a Western with Japanese people, the point is to make an epic shootout with grit-teethed character. The rest are all details. Anachronistic, displaced and utterly absurd details, but beautiful beautiful detail at that.

It's not strictly parody and it's not strictly surreal. At one point there's a hint that it's a prequel to the title movie. It has references to things from "Yojimbo" to "Once Upon a Time in America" to "Kill Bill", but it exists utterly in its own logic and is completely unpredictable. The characters discuss anime as a weakness, a sheriff starts grappling with himself like Gollum from "The Lord of the Rings", and the spider-woman gunslinger might be a hermaphrodite. But while I do not believe in a "Miike Universe" that cross-references between different movies, there is most certainly a "Miike mood" which is the ability to range from pure hysterics to morbid fascination to disturbing reveals to good ol' fashioned fireworks. This movie might not make a lick of sense in terms of chronology and setting, but that won't stop you from caring deeply about its characters and laughing at its jokes.

This is one of those things where I really wish I could get more people to buy/rent the movie at work, simply because it's so much Goddamn fun, but have to settle for the fact that for the most part, the incredibly sincere Japanese acting and the over-the-top Western landscapes (including a painted backdrop that purposefully gets blood sprayed on it) won't mesh with the average viewer's careful expectations of what they want from a movie. For shame, too, because this is actually precisely what you want from a Western. Nobody goes into a Western for it to make any historical sense.

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A Fistful of Yens
RainDogJr6 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This Sukiyaki Western begins in a really bizarre way, more or less like a play with Ringo (Quentin Tarantino in a total tribute to the man with no name, with the poncho included ), a man who knew the story about the Genji and Heike clans or the whites and the reds, a story that happened hundred years ago. Our story takes place in the present of the whites and reds, when their rivalry is still alive. Of course the old mythology is still present and with some flashbacks we are going to see how this two clans ends in the same town that now is almost abandoned and is controlled by the two clans. Here is when the man with no name or the Sanjuro of our story enters, a man that comes from nowhere but seems that he arrives in the right time for the people in the town. Here a family story is also shown, with a couple that when they get married they forget about the clans but now the woman is going to avenge the dead of his husband by joining the clan of the whites.

This is like a summary of this picture, listed as a remake of Django that was a remake of Yojimbo. I don't remember when was the first time that I hear something about this film but since then and when I saw the trailer it becomes for me the film to check this year. I mean, it was a Miike film, it has a cameo of Tarantino, it has Japanese actors and actresses talking a strange English and itself was a tribute to the Spaghetti Westerns called, in a really unique way, Sukiyaki Western Django. Knowing all this, it was just an offer I couldn't refuse. Now that I have finally seen this film on the Japanese DVD I can write that Miike has made an extremely enjoyable and entertaining western with a basic and common story but with many unique scenes and a great denouement.

Even I really liked the first part of the film, with the story of the town and some memorable scenes (like the "now my name is Henry" or the escape of the gunman), is the final part the best one. Apart of the final confrontation in the snow between the gunman and the white leader, one of my favourites moments of the entire film is the story of the character of Ruriko. She has the classic unbelievable past as a true legend and her story is shown with the style of a QT movie. Of course not a coincidence that Tarantino's character result to be the master of Ruriko and the father of her son, Akira, the mentioned husband who was murdered. In the end we have that this actually was the story of the son of Akira, who actually saw how both of his parents were killed, having in the end gratitude with the gunman and later finding his own way to Italy (a really memorable and even hilarious final detail of the film).

Finally, I really liked Sukiyaki Western Django and the entire concept makes that this is a must see film not only for Takashi Miike fans but also for all the people who loves westerns. I'm glad I finally saw this picture, one of the most expected of the last year and now one of my personal favourites. Just hoping that soon we can get the Region 1 DVD with some of the extras that are one the collector's edition.

django! Django, have you always been alone? django! Django, have you never loved again? Love will live on, oh oh oh... Life must go on, oh oh oh... For you cannot spend your life regreatting django! Django, you must face another day django! Django, now your love has gone away. Once you loved her, whoa-oh... Now you've lost her, whoa-oh-oh-oh... But you've lost her for-ever, django. When there are clouds in the skies, and they are grey. You may be sad but remember that love will pass away. Oh django! After the showers is the sun. Will be shining...
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inferior parody
winner556 January 2009
Another Mikke Takeshi film - so expect the unexpected - or maybe not.

There is a serious problem to this film which most reviews haven't even touched. Yet anyone who has followed direct-to-video action films from Japan for the past 20 years should know what it is. Post-modern references to Spaghetti Westerns have become such a staple of such films, that these essentially have established a genre all their own - absurdist over the top violence, operatic story elements, musical and visual cues referencing the music of Ennio Morricone and the films of Sergio Leone - This has now been done a hundred times. This is the real surprise (disappointment) of the present movie - it is not new.

The reason for the development of this weirdly self-referential genre is that the most famous of all Spaghetti Westerns, Leone's 'A Fistful of Dollars,' was a direct rip-off of Akira Kurosawa's 'Yojimbo.' In the past two decades, Japanese film makers have tried to understand how that could happen. In general, although producing entertaining action films, they have failed miserably to comprehend the relationship between "Fistful" and "Yojimbo," because they haven't been able to grasp the fundamental agreement between the thought of Leone and Kurosawa which was softly Marxist in social orientation. Both of the original films are quietly but rigorously condemnatory of modern capitalism, which has been lost on the Japanese genre in question.

One would have expected director Miike Takeshi, who has been so critical of modern society in other films, to have recognized this and used it. He does not. SWD is entirely of its genre, and nothing new is learned from it.

Instead, he tries to avoid the issue by drawing his material mainly from the major film by Leone disciple Sergio Corbucci - "Django." Big mistake.

Whatever its merits, 'Django' left one seriously misguided impression on the history of the Spaghetti Western - it seems to be entirely lacking in humor. Althgough Corbucci later revealed quite a sense of the comedic, and Leone's own films are largely comedies with operatic structures, this impression of 'Django' has stuck, and most parodies of Spaghetti Westerns have been based on the assumption that the genre is overly heavy in its themes and philosophy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Yet here, we are expected to laugh because the characters take themselves sssooo seriously. When the heroes of the best Spaghetti Westerns didn't take themselves seriously at all. Which means we are expected to laugh at a parody of a genre that in fact never existed.

There's a lot of good here. The action sequences are solid, the pacing is good, the weird blend of Meji Restoration and 1880s cowboy actually works visually. And there are lines from the dialog that are impossible to forget.

But those familiar with Japanese action films have seen most of this before. And we expect more from this unique director, especially with the budget involved.
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A lone gunman pits a town's two warring factions against each other
DanLives19807 April 2012
Welcome to the twisted mind of one of Japan's greatest ever directors. Try not to notice Quentin Tarantino's chin invading everything that has his name on it recently, this man is responsible for everything Tarantino wishes he'd thought of while he wastes his time recreating WWII history or labelling films, that have no slashing or horrifying, slasher horrors! Sukiyaki Western Django is a tribute of sorts to original spaghetti western, Django, but also an original in its own right. When a mysterious young gunman walks into a small town in the desert, he is faced with the factions of two opposing houses; the Reds and the Whites. They are at war with each other and have been since immediately after they split from the same bunch.

The Whites are ruled by a zen but cold-hearted sword brandishing leader and the Reds by a crass gun-slinging pirate-like slob leader. Standing between the bitter rivals are an aging ex-outlaw woman named Bloody Benton and a helpless Sheriff who's so extremely schizophrenic that he frequently has physical fights with himself.

By choosing to stay in town and causing rumours to spread the gunman triggers the war they've all been waiting for, unleashing all the rage and uncovering their true agendas as he reveals his own; vengeance! The film goes much deeper than I can explain without spoiling it but what makes this film such a gem is that it was aimed at English speaking audiences, making its Japanese cast speak solely English; a language which they were clearly not familiar with. It makes the frequent comedy scenes between the tragedy and bitterness so much more enjoyable and gives the film that exploitation cinema feel that people have been raging about the past five years without even trying. Basically because it is exploiting itself.

Quentin Tarantino has a role in the film as Bloody Benton's decrepit ex-love interest, which is both amusing yet also irritating. Tarantino's gift to film, as we've known a long time.

Apart from this, the film manages to seem quite genuine despite it's efforts to be the complete opposite, sometimes switching between real locations and purposely cheap and tacky theatrical sets. What we have here is a feature length parody western that mixes up as much as it can to remain fresh and hard to second-guess as possible as it veers from methodical storytelling into eccentric, surreal and absurd comic book lunacy.

If you could watch Machete, Hobo with a Shotgun and Old Boy, this is next on your list!
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