Saturday, December 3, 2016

When A Samurai Cowboy Rides Into Town, or Thoughts on Sukiyaki Western Django

Another Yojimbo (1961) remake by way of A Fistful of Dollars (1964, the gold standard for Yojimbo remakes) and Django (1966), with a dash of The Man With The Iron Fists (2012), Sukiyaki Western Django (2007), or (スキヤキ・ウエスタン ジャンゴ) is a samurai western featuring two rival clans fighting for dominance in an Old West town full of pagoda architecture.  That’s most intriguing feature of this movie; the surreal alternate landscape with East literally meeting West, where the Japanese cast speaks English but all of the signage is in Japanese, and the cowboys all carry katanas in their gun belts.
From director Takashi Miike, 三池 崇史, the two warring factions are based on actual Samurai clans, the red-clad Heike and the white-themed Genji.  The premise makes for some stunning visuals and beautiful costumes.  Into town rides a man in black, (also a man with no name) played by Hideaki Ito (伊藤 英明), who conveniently is also an expert shot.
Gloriously violent, as one would expect from the director of Audition (1998), Ichi the Killer (2001) and Yakuza Apocalypse (2015), Sukiyaki Western Django deals digital gore and death by guns, dynamite, crossbows, katanas and a Gatling gun in a coffin lifted directly out of Franco Nero’s playbook in Django (1966).  There’s not much attention paid to the laws of physics, or anatomy, but you shouldn’t go to a Takashi Miike movie craving realism.
There’s also an introduction featuring Quentin Tarantino in his finest Sergio Leone poncho, against a theatrical backdrop of Mt. Fuji.  Speaking English with a Japanese accent (a little racist, but whatever), he sets the mood and tone for the film; stylish, allegorical and hyper-violent, just like his movies.



my first novel? thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon)