'Sukiyaki Western Django: Collector's Edition'
(Hideaki Ito, Yusuke Iseya, Kaori Momoi, Quentin Tarantino, et al / Blu-ray / R / (2007) 2019 / MVD Visual)
Overview: 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,' an epic tale of blood, lust and greed starring Hideaki Ito, Yusuke Iseya, Kaori Momoi and Quentin Tarantino ('Pulp Fiction').
Two clans 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.
Blu-ray Verdict: In a way, everything Takashi Miike makes from here on out could easily be considered fan service. That's partially because he has fans that wouldn't be disappointed no matter what he does!
From the straight street dramas of the Black Society Trilogy to the messy violence of his more famous cult classics and lately to the more surreal works of 'Big Bang Love, Juvenile A' and even 'Zebraman', his work is both loved and admired.
But it's also partially because nobody really has a handle on what he's doing except that it's bizarre! So how does one tell a good Miike movie from any other one?
Well, how kick-ass it is? Yup, sometimes it just boils down to that!
'Sukiyaki Western Django' is a boiled mish-mash of various conceits and approaches, an almost chaotic display of Western bravado meets mixed-genre in-jokes.
With Quentin Tarantino and a brief animated display, nonetheless!
However, what makes it really work are those things that wouldn't have worked if it wasn't half the point: the broad widescreen of Sergio Leone - used to show a color-corrected Japanese landscape that looks nothing like the West; the Man with No Name approaching a nearly empty gold mining town - made in Japanese architecture complete with the man hanging off of the rectilinear entry-gate; set in a dry universe of gun-play and whiskey - that suddenly turns to rain and snow once the violence and vengeance comes reigning from the sky!
Phew, yup, the point isn't to make a Western with Japanese people, the point is to make an epic shootout with grit-teethed character. The rest are all details.
Anachronistic, displaced and utterly absurd details, but beautiful beautiful detail at that.
It's not strictly parody and it's not strictly surreal. At one point there's a hint that it's a prequel to the title movie. It has references to things from 'Yojimbo' to 'Once Upon a Time in America' on through to 'Kill Bill,' but it exists utterly in its own logic and is completely unpredictable.
The characters discuss anime as a weakness, a sheriff starts grappling with himself like Gollum from 'The Lord of the Rings,' and the spider-woman gunslinger might be a hermaphrodite (just saying!)
But while I do not believe in a "Miike Universe" that cross-references between different movies, there is most certainly a "Miike mood" which is the ability to range from pure hysterics to morbid fascination to disturbing reveals to good ol' fashioned fireworks.
This movie might not make a lick of sense in terms of chronology and setting, but that won't stop you from caring deeply about its characters and laughing at its jokes.
This is one of those things where I really wish I could get more people to buy/rent the movie at work, simply because it's so much goddamn fun, but have to settle for the fact that for the most part, the incredibly sincere Japanese acting and the over-the-top Western landscapes (including a painted backdrop that purposefully gets blood sprayed on it) won't mesh with the average viewer's careful expectations of what they want from a movie.
For shame, too, because this is actually precisely what you want from a Western. Nobody goes into a Western for it to make any historical sense! Am I right! This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs via a brand new Blu-ray (1080p) HD presentation and comes with the Special Features of:
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)
'Sukiyaki Western Django' Original Movie Trailer