SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO
Violent, Quirky Postmodern Western
Release Date: August 29, 2008
Starring: Hideaki Ito, Koichi Sato,
Yusuke Iseya, Masanobu Ando,
Kaori Momoi, Yoshino Kimura,
Teruyuki Kagawa, and Quentin
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 98 minutes
Distributor: First Look Studios
Director: Takashi Miike
Executive Producer: Toshiaki Nakazawa and Nobuyuki
Producer: Hirotsugu Yoshida and
Writer: Takashi Miike and Masaru
Address Comments To:Trevor Short, CEO, First Look Studios
Avi Lerner and Danny Dimbort
Co-Chairmen of Nu Image
2000 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 410
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Phone: (424) 202-5000; Fax: (424) 202-5310
Dubbed into English, like many of the spaghetti westerns, the story of SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO opens with a lone anonymous gunman drifting into a mining town. Two clans, the white Genji clan and the red Heike, clan are battling for a legendary hidden treasure. The two clans try to woo the lone gunman to their side, but the gunman has other ideas. He befriends a middle-aged woman and her young grandson. The boy’s mother, a member of the white clan, went slightly crazy when her red clan husband was murdered in cold blood by the red clan leader for being a “traitor” to his clan. The woman is now the lover of the vicious white clan leader, but the boy’s grandmother is secretly a famous female gunslinger, now retired, who runs the general store. Of course, mayhem and violence ensue.
Despite all the violence, SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO has some interesting, lyrical moments, especially regarding the tragedy of the boy and his parents. These elements may turn it into a cult movie. Otherwise, however, it’s a disappointing, inconsequential postmodern work. The worst part, quality wise, is the cameo by Quentin Tarantino, whose appearances almost destroy what little reality exists in this Japanese western. Ultimately, the most interesting part of this movie is its cinematic and literary connections to Clint Eastwood, Sergio Leone, Akira Kurosawa, and Dashiell Hammett. These connections demonstrate the continuing power of these four talented icons’ effect on popular culture and people’s imaginations.
Despite all the violence, SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO has some interesting, lyrical moments, especially regarding the tragedy of the boy and his parents. Otherwise, it’s a disappointing, inconsequential work. The worst part, quality wise, is the cameo by Quentin Tarantino, whose appearances almost destroy what little reality exists in this Japanese western. This movie is based on some famous Italian and Japanese movies, which in turn were based on a detective crime novel written by Dashiell Hammett of MALTESTE FALCON fame.