SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO (Seville, 2007) D: Takashi Miike, w/ Hideaki Ito, Masanobu Ando. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NNNN Rating: NNN
A drifter wanders into an isolated village ravaged by two gangs busy killing everybody in sight. It's dusters, guns and horses, the Old West in medieval Japan, but anachronisms and cultural mashups abound. The colour-coded costumes (the Reds versus the Whites) are strictly contemporary. So much for conventional movie realism.
Quentin Tarantino aside (he's in a brief framing story), the cast is Japanese, but they deliver their lines in English, a language none of them knows. This makes for jagged rhythms that sound almost, but not quite, like bad dubbing.
That's one of the bigger clues that director Takashi Miike isn't directly sending up the classic samurai flick Yojimbo. Rather, he's riffing on the equally classic Italian remake, A Fistful Of Dollars.
Miike is better known for his extreme movies like Ichi The Killer and the Imprint episode of Masters Of Horror, one of the two most disturbing horror movies ever. Here, he just seems to be having a giggle - lightweight fun for spaghetti western fans, a bit baffling for the rest.
However light the movie, it's clear from the excellent 50-minute making-of doc that this was a hellish shoot plagued by rain, mud, snow and such intense cold that the actors couldn't function. Film crews always talk about how tough the shoot was; this time you believe it. Miike also explains why he has his cast speaking English
EXTRAS Making-of doc, deleted scenes. Widescreen. English, French audio. English, French, Spanish subtitles.