Sukiyaki Western Django: Collector's Edi - Sukiyaki Western Django: Collector's Edition(Blu R [MVD Marquee Collection - 2020]Japanese cinema legend Takashi Miike’s (Audition, Ichi the Killer, Masters of Horror) take on the spaghetti western is a unique visual experience. Taking the character of the lone gunman, originally played by Franco Nero, in Italian cinema and supplanting him to 19th century Japan by way of the 12th century Heike/Genji clan wars.
Sukiyaki Western Django tells the tale of a mysterious gunfighter, played by Hideaki Ito (star of the hugely popular Umizaru films and TV series based on the Japanese manga). After arriving in a near-deserted, once prosperous town of Yuta controlled by two clans, the Heike and the Genji, our hero learns from a woman named Ruriko (Kaori Momoi) of the bitter battle for a legendary golden treasure hidden somewhere within the town. Both clans try to woo our hero to their side, yet he refuses to be drawn and chooses to side with the downtrodden townspeople. Ruriko turns out to be a highly trained gunslinger, The Bloody Benten, who has been entrusted with looking after the gold. This eventually leads to a bloody and violent conclusion to the tale with our nameless hero and his new female sidekick who moves with the grace of a trained samurai, taking on both clans.
Sukiyaki Western Django transplants the spirit of Sergio Corbucci’s classic spaghetti western back to Japan, the land that technically spawned the original. Corbucci’s film was greatly influenced by the work of Japanese master Akira Kurosawa, particularly Yojimbo, the film Django was loosely based on. So, what we have here is really a case of Miike reappropriating the Samurai film as a western for a Japanese audience. Brutal, violent and crammed with stylish touches the film is somewhat self-indulgent but thoroughly enjoyable.
On a critical level, the scenes with Quentin Tarantino and Kaori Momoi add context but feel as though they have been added in at a later date. The way they are shot, using different lighting and painted backgrounds juxtaposes the rest of the film and give the scenes a cheap, grindhouse feel. This was obviously intentional but I’m not sure why Miike chose to do this. On the other hand, it was nice to see the machine gun in a coffin make an appearance as a homage to Corbucci’s film, and it was even better to see it used to great effect throughout the rest of the film’s duration.
Overall, Sukiyaki Western Django does manage to capture some of the spirit of the spaghetti western it is based on, however, it also manages to draw from the wellspring of samurai movies that those westerns were originally based on. At times it does this most effectively and what we get it is an aesthetically pleasing slice of cinema that can be confused and self-indulgent at times, but ultimately wins out with some superb action sequences and some gloriously beautiful scenery. As with all of Miike’s movies, colour plays an important role, and it is always vivid and clear with no bleed through. The disc feature both the original theatrical cut of the movie and the extended edition, for the purpose of this review I watched the extended edition. There are several bonus features including a making-of featurette, deleted scenes and various promo clips and trailers. Overall, Sukiyaki Western Django is an interesting concept that doesn’t always quite work, but there is enough style and substance to it to make it at the very least an interesting viewing experience.Darren Charles