Famed Japanese auteur Takashi Miike, best known for cult classics "Audition", "Ichi the Killer", and "The City of Lost Souls", redefines the spaghetti Western with SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO, a tale written in blood. Two clans, Genji, the white clan led by Yoshitsune, and Heike, the red clan led by Kiyomori, battle for a legendary treasure hidden in a desolate mountain town. One day, a lone gunman, burdened with deep emotional scars but blessed with incredible shooting skills, drifts into town. Two clans try to woo the lone gunman to their sides, but he has ulterior motives. Dirty tricks, betrayal, desire and love collide as the situation erupts into a final, explosive showdown.
The prolific Takashi Miike co-wrote and directed this strikingly postmodern remake of Sergio Corbucci's 1966 Spaghetti Western, Django
. The story is much the same, but the highly stylized fusion of Japanese gangsterism and operatic musings on the Western form makes for a wild and unexpected cult movie. Still, there is not much here beyond the film's relentlessly creative surface, making Sukiyaki
a bit wearying. Feuding for centuries, the Genji and Heiki clans both arrive in a 19th century Nevada town, determined to find hidden treasure rumored to be there. In the midst of their fighting comes a solitary gunslinger (Hideaki Ito) courted by each clan to work for them. When he refuses, the cross-currents of betrayal and murder escalate, and hidden truths behind at least one tragedy, and the real identity of an unlikely shooter, come to the surface. The film's energy, dynamic camerawork and almost tongue-in-cheek performances are fun and admirable, and Miike has a fascinating sense of composition. The story gets a little soft just past the halfway point and Miike attempts to fill the void with exhausting new ways of filming bloody mayhem for its own sake. Quentin Tarantino has a small role as a mystery man with a link to these events. --Tom Keogh