“SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO”— A Take on the Spaghetti Western


A Take on the Spaghetti Western

Amos Lassen

Takashi Miike’s “Sukiyaki Western Django” is a prime example of thepopular tradition of the spaghetti western. It is filled with painted pastel backdrops, gaping stomach wounds, rape, child murders, some lovely surreal imagery. The plot—though clearly of secondary importance here—comes from any number of other films in the genre.

Miike is a visually accomplished filmmaker capable of staging simultaneous action on more than one visual plane but his aesthetic inventiveness only surfaces in occasional moments of inspiration, as in the final showdown which takes place in the middle of a suddenly materializing snowstorm and some odd images. One of the film’s more successful artistic conceits is Miike’s decision to have his entire Japanese cast deliver their lines in halting English. Just as Miike takes his filmmaking cue from the American western, so do his actors bring a Japanese sensibility by filtering the distinctly American English dialogue through their native speech patterns. This serves as a suitably odd distancing device and an appropriate aural analogue to the filmmaker’s visual appropriations. Miike too often seems to be not so much reinventing the spaghetti western as simply contributing a poor entry to the genre. Even when it’s going strong, itcontinually reminds us that it’s nothing more than a pastiche.

The plot centers around a mysterious nameless gunfighter (Hideaki Ito), a newly arrived stranger, arriving in the mountain small town in the midst of a gang war and hanging out at the local seedy saloon named Eastwood. The red Heiki clan, led by Kiyomori (Koichi Sato), is at war against the white clan, led by the Genji, Yoshitsune (Yusuke Iseya). They are fighting over hidden gold in the mountains with both clans trying to recruit the elusive gunfighter that they see as a great gunfighter. 

Miike pushes in the viewer’s face into his lurid spaghetti western. There is not much here aside from stunning colorful photography, awkward dialogue that’s funny at times and eye-catching cartoonish violence that seems like slapstick comedy.

The film begins with a flashback scene, shot on a set that gives an entirely new meaning to the word “budget.” It i sets the tone for the film but also impresses with some fine detail. As the film moves forward in time, it takes on a less stylized look, but retains its sharp imagery and extraordinary detail. Various interior shots are stunning. They show depth and fine detail, particularly in the wood used throughout the sets. Every inch of the image is sharp and vibrant. The level of detail is breathtaking, particularly when it comes to the wardrobe.

 “Sukiyaki Western Django” is a study in varied cinematic techniques with gritty flashbacks and the clean and brilliantly detailed main story. It looks wonderful.

Bonus Materials

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the main feature in 2.35:1 aspect ratio
  • Audio: English 5.1 Surround, 2.0 Stereo
  • English and Spanish Subtitles
  • Sukiyaki Western Django : Extended Cut (HD, 159:57, with Optional Japanese Subtitles)
  • Making of Featurette (SD, 52:37, In Japanese with English Subtitles
  • Deleted Scenes (SD, 06:37)
  • Sizzle Reel (SD, 03:12)
  • Promotional Clips (SD, 02:58)
  • US and Japanese Theatrical Trailers and TV Spots (SD)
  • Sales Points
  • Talented ensemble cast including Hideaki Ito, Yusuke Iseya, Kaori Momoi and Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction)

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