Monday, December 22, 2008

TALES FROM NETFLIX: Turning Japanese

Watched a couple of off-the-beaten-path Japanese flicks recently, VERSUS and Takeshi Miike’s SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO, so thought I’d give them a mention together...

First up, VERSUS

Just finished watching this one, and it’s a bit older, been kicking around since 2000, but I’d heard of it quite a ways back and put it in the queue, since it was supposed to be gonzo action with a touch of zombie, then when it got a plug on Attack of the Show’s Asian Underground, I dug it out and bumped it up.

To be honest, as much as I wanted to like it, I did have a really hard time not ejecting it, several times, but, I am glad I stuck with it. As much as it has really cool action and staged conflicts, and stylish anime style camerawork and characters, it does move very very slow when not in action, and get a bit repetitive. However, things do escalate, and get cooler.

Also, it’s not really a zombie flick, and I knew that, but don’t get it expecting that. Basically, an escaped prisoner intervenes in some kind of gang incident in the woods, but it turns out everything ties together, and the woods aren’t what they seem, when bodies start dropping, and then getting back up.

Choreographed sword fights, gun fights, fist fights, and 50 caliber damage!
RECOMMENDED if this sounds like your type of thing, it's definitely worth a watch, just be patient.

Along the same lines is a recent release from Japanese gonzo master, Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer), SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO

Takashi Miike has built a strong brand for himself as the cutting edge Japanese director, who traffics in the extreme, plus he’s quite prolific. Now, I haven’t seen too much of his work, but what I have seen is definitely gripping, if you can stomach it. With his latest release though, Miike is giving us his take on the spaghetti western genre, and is in safe mode by comparison. Django also features Quentin Tarantino in a cameo, so it’s gotten a bit of buzz.

As with Versus, I found Django a bit tough to get into at first, and contemplated giving up, but just like Versus again, I’m glad I stuck with it. Django plays like a straight western, but thematically it’s purely Japanese. Only, instead of choosing subtitles or dub, Miike has the cast here learn their lines phonetically in English, just as he did with his Masters of Horror feature, Imprint (also recommended, but very very dark), which is a bit strange, and so is the movie.

Stick it out though, because it’s a solid story, and has some fun and imaginative standoff/showdown sequences.

A ballet of gunplay, costumes, and blazing gatlins!
RECOMMENDED, again, if you’re ready to be challenged with some offbeat Japanese spaghetti western craziness.
For more Netflix gems, hit up the TALES FROM NETFLIX archives HERE

1 comment:

Edward Pun said...

Cool review! I just watched SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO. I really REALLY like the Red and White gang costume which combine the western and Japanese clothing... I wish I came up with that idea first! The last bit of fighting was super stylish and wish they did a little bit more of that. Its not for everyone but I dig it.