Yakisoba Western Django

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Almost two weeks ago I caught “Sukiyaki Western Django” at the theater in front of Tokyo Disneyland. I keep forgetting to write it up, so here it is:

First, Quentin Tarantino is in the film, so you know it has to be odd. His character reminds me of a mystical master in a poorly translated kung fu movie. He also has a penchant for sukiyaki. I won’t say anymore about that or it will ruin a very bizarre scene early in the film.

The basic story is based on a feudal dispute that occurred in Japan the better part of a millennium ago. The twist is the setting: a mystical mix of old west and ancient Japan. The use of color is amazing and subtle. Well, the red and white colors of the two warring factions are not as subtle as the use of colors in the sets. There was some confusing use of blue and brown costumes early on, which combined with my sleepiness to make me think there were four clans.

All of the dialog takes place in English. Most of the cast are not known for their skills in English. The lines are delivered very slowly and deliberately – painfully so, I would have to say. During the first half of the movie I was fighting to stay awake. In fairness, I was horribly sleep deprived at the time.

I missed some of the details of the scenes where characters are acting out Henry VI. Even though the show was something like 1800 yen, I may have to watch it again – in a well rested state – to catch some of that. I think they were drawing parallels between the War of the Roses and the Genpei (源平) Wars.

We coin the phrase ‘Spaghetti Western’ for cowboy films cranked out of Italy. In Japanese, the term ‘Macaroni Western’ is used for the same meaning. I had assumed that the title ‘Sukiyaki Western’ was continuing the analogy; although, I figured yakisoba was a more apt Japanese equivalent to spaghetti.

Overall it was an interesting piece of work to see. I think some people will find its pace painful to watch, but any fans of Tarantino or Miike will not want to miss it.

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2 Responses to “Yakisoba Western Django”

  1. ACGalaga Says:

    Miike has become an international film superstar with his unique sense of style and his insane work ethics (he’ll make 4-6 movies a year). His films also tend to be hyper violent and disturbing, so that tends to bring him attention as well.

    I’d certainly enjoy seeing this film if you ever have the notion to see it again. otherwise I’ll look into purchasing the DVD.

  2. びっくり Says:

    I could be talked into a late show, since those are only about 1000 yen, but let me get some sleep first.

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