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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Revenge is an act of style--one that no Kill Bill fan should miss
This appears to be another take on genre-crossing in a genre-style movie. Previous examples include the wildly successful Sin City movies, popular western splices like The Good The Bad and The Weird and The Warrior's Way, and the stillborn Sucker Punch. But all these movies were well-advertised and wide theatrical releases (in Asia, at least, for The Good The Bad and...
Published on November 6, 2011 by John's Horror Corner

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good start...
This movie began its journey slowly, making it through production but having a time of getting distribution. When it finally did, the anticipation was high. It looked so good.

Unfortunately, the execution couldn't entirely live up to the anticipation. I won't say this is a bad movie. It was entertaining, had some nice lines and okay fight sequences. The real...
Published 22 months ago by B. Newby


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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Revenge is an act of style--one that no Kill Bill fan should miss, November 6, 2011
This review is from: Bunraku (DVD)
This appears to be another take on genre-crossing in a genre-style movie. Previous examples include the wildly successful Sin City movies, popular western splices like The Good The Bad and The Weird and The Warrior's Way, and the stillborn Sucker Punch. But all these movies were well-advertised and wide theatrical releases (in Asia, at least, for The Good The Bad and The Weird). Should I approach this lack of advertising as a snake's rattle and keep my expectations low? When I stumbled across this I thought "This movie features Josh Hartnett, Demi Moore, Ron Perlman, Woody Harrelson and Kevin McKidd, and I had never heard of it or saw a trailer. How does that happen? Is this a weird little gem waiting to be discovered, or an utter Sucker Punch tragedy?"

The opening credits are cleverly presented during an animated story background. The style was much like that of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One or Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. When moviemakers really care about a movie, they make an effort to have the opening credits "affect" the viewer somehow. Even if it's only music over a black screen, moods are set and pace is foreshadowed. I've commented on the great opening credits of The Good The Bad and The Weird, and that movie was awesome. This made for a promising start.

In this perhaps futuristic world guns have somehow been banned, making way for a resurgence in swordsmanship and a feudal yakuza-esque gang culture. A young, Doc Holidayish brawler (Hartnett) and a swordless samurai team up to exact their revenge against the ruthless king of the hill, "The Woodsman" (Perlman). To do so, they must kill their way through leagues of henchman and his nine right hand men, one of which is played by a sleek Kevin McKidd.

This film is VERY stylistic. The effects and music smack of Scott Pilgrim versus The World with comic book stylings of villainy and storyline much like Kill Bill. The combat follows suit, with choreography focusing more on a dance-like technical precision than producing a realistic fight. It's more like theater than cinema. In fact, the set designers erected intentionally artificial-looking structures in order to unsubtly accent this feeling. Sets and wardrobe contain elements of the present, the future, the old west, and the early 1900's. Many theatrical devices are employed as well. All of this synergistically produces an other-worldly feel.

The style of this movie is rare and difficult to execute. The fights are fun, the scenes are clever, and (with the exception of Demi Moore's role) the characters were interesting. If you are careful about your expectations, this movie could be a great pick for you.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!, October 6, 2011
This review is from: Bunraku (DVD)
Just your basic noir, German Expressionist, samurai comicbook-come-to-life kind of movie - but absolutely incredible. If there ever was a wall between live action and animated movies, it's gone now. Clever animated interludes separate each big sequence from the next, but the artwork stays on in the skies and backgrounds of the live action. Even the supposedly photographic sequences have been color-shifted and manipulated into brilliant hues and moody darks - eye-popping chromatics keep the viewer visually entertained to the end. Then, there are visual references to more classic films than I can hope to name, including an apparent reference to Dr. Strangelove on one motorcycle's license plate. But, if you're looking for action, wonderfully choreographed comedic fight scenes approach Jackie Chan's best.

Plot? Motivation? Characterization? Well, not so much, but let's not dwell on that. The visual spectacle makes this worthwhile.

-- wiredweird, reviewing the release to theaters
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A meta-film about the art of movie production design, November 28, 2011
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This review is from: Bunraku [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
[Review based on the theatrical release.] This is an fascinatingly stylized film that is as much about filmmaking itself as it is about its mythological, Joseph Campbell-esque plot. I was originally interested in it because of the involvement of Japanese singer/auteur Gackt, whose staged works I greatly admire. However, when I read the mainstream reviews, I went into the theater thinking than the film would be a disaster or even worse, a "so bad it's bad" bore.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I found the film engaging from beginning to end, with more visual information packed into the theatrically lit and staged frames than could possibly be absorbed in a single viewing. During the showing I didn't look at my watch once and I am not easily amused.

This film deserves to advance to "cult classic" status and is a film that deserves to be added to future film school curricula because of its success in using many of the devices of filmmaking and theater to create a visually consistent, entirely artificial world. I usually rent instead of buying, but this film is worth more than one watch, just to absorb more of the kaleidoscopic visuals.

If you love the "production design" aspect of filmmaking, this is a five-star movie. If you mostly care about story and a novel plotline, then call it 2 ˝ stars because there is little new in the plot. If you like a mythological story that is told in a way you have never seen before, then Bunraku is a solid four stars.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very entertaining, exciting and surprisingly good movie with a great cast. Fans of "Sin CIty" will love it. I liked it. I say, September 22, 2011
By 
Tony Heck (Belgrade, MT USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bunraku (DVD)
"Revenge is an act of style." When a man (Hartnett) bent on revenge come to a city he finds what he is looking for. He begins fighting his way through nine very different and very deadly assassins on his way to the one he want. This is another movie that really surprised me as to how good it was. Having never seen a preview or even really heard about it I had no idea what to expect. While the movie is not that original it takes from many different types of movies and blends them together in a very interesting and exciting way. Some aspects have been taken from "Scott Pilgrim vs The World", "Kill Bill" and "Sin City" just to name a few. This is more like "Sin City" then the others in the style that it uses and the "comic-booky" feel that it has. The fighting is great, and is refreshing to see an action movie that doesn't rely on guns to make it fun. The cast is great and the movie is very fun, very much worth your time. The only thing that bothered me is that it didn't need to be two hours long. They could have cut at least 15-20 min out and had it move at a more exciting pace. Other then that I really enjoyed this. Overall, a very entertaining way to spend your time and money. I give it a B.

Would I watch again? - I don't think so *Also try - Sin City & Tekken
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Flawed, but still really good., November 11, 2011
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This review is from: Bunraku (DVD)
Honestly, The main reason I bought Bunraku was to support my favorite Japanese musician, GACKT who stars as Yoshi in Bunraku. I didn't hold out much hope for the rest of the movie based on critic reviews.

But I sat down and watched it, and honestly, I really really liked it. Not to say the movie isn't flawed. the beginning is a bit campy and confusing. I didn't know where they were going with anything until almost 15 minutes in. The way they introduced and built the characters up could have been done much better.

However, once you got passed the corny introductions to the characters, and figured out what the heck was going on... the rest fell into place nicely.

Josh Hartnett filled the role of "The Drifter" very well. he brought a bit of realism to what could best be described as a comic book character. There were moments where he made you laugh, like a scene where he has to use a trapeze. I really enjoyed the fight scenes with "The Drifter". They were exciting... Josh Hartnett was right on in his interpretation of the character.

I think Woody Harrelson did a great job as the bartender. He seemed to fit the role perfectly, and I'm not talking about his bartending stint on 'Cheers'. (I was too little to really appreciate his time on that show - lol). what I liked about Harrelson in this movie... He has this sort of wisdom in his eye, and cunningly knowing smile. He really stuck out to me in this movie. I have to say, I have a new found respect for Harrelson as an actor after this role.

Gackt surprised me. I'm a big fan of his music, and I liked him in Furin Kazan (a Japanese Samurai period piece)... however, I didn't know how he would handle the transition to and English speaking Hollywood movie. Surprisingly, his acting is very good. he wasn't over the top nor was he too understated. He made the character realistic and likable. You would never guess by watching this movie that this was his first Hollywood movie, or that he didn't have a large list of acting credits under his belt. There were a few times I had to remind myself that I was watching GACKT, because he brings you into his character. He really did a great job.

There were a few things I didn't like, or at least, that disappointed me a bit. Nicola (the main baddie played brilliantly by Ron Perlman) and Alexandra (played also brilliantly by Demi Moore) were not properly utilized in the movie. There was so much that could have been done with both characters... I feel there were missed opportunities. Especially when we learn WHO Alexandra has a history with, and considering Nicola is the most feared, and most dangerous man that few dare stand up to him... once you see the movie, you'll spot a few places where the opportunities were missed... So I won't go into it further as to not spoil you.

So all in all, this was an excellent movie. Yes there are some flaws, but none that seriously effect the watch-ability of this movie. I would say this is going to be a fan classic fairly quickly. if you like Samurai movies or Westerns, or if you liked Sin City... I think you'll like this movie. Its the kind of movie you can appreciate more the second and third time around. I'd say it's definitely worth the purchase.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good start..., August 30, 2012
This review is from: Bunraku (DVD)
This movie began its journey slowly, making it through production but having a time of getting distribution. When it finally did, the anticipation was high. It looked so good.

Unfortunately, the execution couldn't entirely live up to the anticipation. I won't say this is a bad movie. It was entertaining, had some nice lines and okay fight sequences. The real appeal is in watching the execution of a very eclectic and risky style of filmmaking. In attempting to pay homage while also reinterpreting the artistic and narrative style of bunraku puppetry, the filmmaker created an ambitious project. I've read complaints from viewers about the sparse, flat backgrounds of this film. I thought, given the style they attempt to emulate, they were wonderful. The pop-up book approach to transitions was executed with grace. The color palate of the film, while a bit too dichotomous for my tastes, is sharp and functional as it represents the two opposing forces (oppression and rebellion) and opposing styles of the main characters (old west and samurai).

While the inconsistent nods to classic American musical cinema puts some people off, I found it entertaining. I don't feel it was used in sufficient amounts though. It needed to be played up more, like Kung Fu Hustle, or down into a subtle nuance of Killer #2's fighting style. As it stands, it feels uneven, most likely due to its uneven application throught the film. It is either in your face or not there at all.

I enjoyed the acting, simplistic as it was. I don't believe that Josh Hartnett's approach to the cowboy needed a dynamic drama to him, nor did Ron Perlman's Woodcutter. I will say, however, that Woodcutter had my favorite scene in the film when he philosophizes about the need for a costume with Killer #2. The only character I felt was superfluous to the film was Demi Moore's whore, whose connection to the other characters felt forced in an effort to make THEM, not HER, feel like a more complete character.

My biggest complaint about this movie is the pacing. It starts off quickly, slows down a lot, take a long time to tell you what you really need to know, then speeds up again at the very end. In the middle, there are moments where it feels like it is moving, but it isn't. I spent more time than I like glaring at my BD-player's counter and wondering why it wasn't further along in the film. This pacing problem needed to be solved in two ways, streamlining the script and editing the film.

Overall, the film doesn't come across as amateurish or mundane, but neither does it approach the sublime art/action film many of us had hoped it would be. The filmmaker, Guy Moshe, is new to the game and his status as neophyte is obvious. However, one could also see his shortcomings as momentary setbacks in what could be a great career. After all, how many novice filmmakers come up with an idea this ambitious or execute it with such style?

I recommend this film to anyone who loves experimentation in filmmaking. This experiment is not a total failure, nor is it a complete success. Some people will like it more than others. It certainly seems to polarize reviewers on other websites. This is definitely a film that I would say you need to see on your own, regardless of your tastes. There are a ton of reviews but don't let them dictate your decision to view this film. Make your own judgement.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's the Future with No Guns, No Law and Order, No Discernable Advertising but Great Lighting!, January 10, 2012
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This review is from: Bunraku (DVD)
Set in a time in the future that we are told is... some time in the future; we are faced with a world where man has been so inhuman to man that all firearms are banned! They are allowed to walk around with all forms of medieval stuff though, so all violent types need not fear.

Thrown into this heady mix of a world with neither calendars nor guns come three unsuspecting heroes. One, a drifter (Josh Hartnett), two a barman (Woody Harrelson) and the third a lone young Samurai - Gackt (well there is always one isn't there). They coalesce (meet) in `Little Westworld' a place that is ruled by a ruthless tyrannical man in a large hat and cloak - Nicola (Ron Perlman). He uses his army of red besuited henchman to maintain a gang warfare rule, that includes extortion, prostitution, corrupt police and sushi!

All three have reasons to want things to end, be it honour, lost love or something more intangible like revenge. They alone must fight the nasty Ron Perlman and Killer No 2 (Kevin McKidd). What is unleashed is an homage to so many things I was a bit confused, the only thread that runs through everything is the fighting - and if that is your bag you will be far from disappointed.

This film oozes style, it starts off being like a sixties re booted `Batman' and then goes all `Sin City', and every set is framed and shot like a graphic novel work of pop art. All the cars are classics even though this is the future, from a Fiat 500 to a Bentley hearse that is doubling up as a taxi and I am sure I spotted a Simca in the mix too. There is also oodles of Japanese influences and a particular preference for red in nigh on every shot. The dialogue though intermittent is sparse and to the point, not overly polished, but still contrived enough to have more than a nod to the noir classics. The plot unfolds quite predictably, the only shocks come from the violence, which is so stylised and choreographed that the blood comes across as not that authentic either.

That said this is a sumptuous production that cares more about style than the vehicle it uses to get the message across, and that is the only real criticism, there is humour, there is pathos, though only a veneer and there is a love interest that is left hanging, but there is a load of fighting. If you like action films with more than a leaning to the oriental then this will rock your world; if you like a more original plot then you will probably only remember this for the high production values. I did like the style but felt it lacked substance - hence my rating. There are good performances from all concerned and director Guy Moshe should be proud of what he has created, it is the script that has let this down, but it is far from being a bad film, it just is not a great one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars bunraku, March 2, 2012
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This review is from: Bunraku [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Started out rather disappointing, as it was beginning to look like a musical and rather hokey, but I stuck with it and the story developed and the singing and dancing around stopped, so I could take it a little more seriously.

The visuals were stunning, and the fight scenes were very great. I think you have to be in a mood for this type of movie, though.

I would say it has the feel of sin city if I were to compare it to anything else... but more cartoonish, and silly.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a movie for theater lovers - and people in altered states, November 5, 2011
By 
Nazani (MidAtlantic) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
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This review is from: Bunraku (DVD)
Don't worry about the plot- it's the same plot of most of the Westerns, space operas, and other action films ever made. The narrator breaks that 4th wall for you immediately, so you can focus on the stagecraft. And it's glorious- the origami meets art deco sets that shift and fold, the references to old video games, the acrobatic fight scenes...and so much more. It calls for multiple viewings to process even half of it. Next time I watch it I'll be trying to concentrate on what's going on in the fight scenes around the combatants, and then I'll watch again to focus on the anime-like aspects. This movie is going straight to cult status. My only disappointment was Josh Hartnett's acting. There was room in the role for an Eastwood-like ambivalence, but Hartnett's drifter doesn't have that depth.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome movie!, June 6, 2014
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This review is from: Bunraku (DVD)
First off, the cast is marvelous (especially Gackt, how gorgeous is he?). Josh Hartnett and Gackt had wonderful chemistry together in this movie. Ron Perelman, Woody Harrelson and Kevin McKidd were awesome as always. The story was great and the backdrop was really interesting. It was like the American Old West meets Modern Day Japan. Very exciting movie.
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Bunraku [Blu-ray]
Bunraku [Blu-ray] by Guy Moshe (Blu-ray - 2011)
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