BY: THE HERETIC
I am pretty sure that most native English speakers do not know what a Bunraku is, nor will they know or care why it is associated with the movie. Basically it is a puppet show, where the puppets could range from simplistic to really complex. If you want a better explanation look up the word on Wikipedia. The beginning of the film kind of starts with one, but after that you wouldn’t be able to tell what this film really has to do with the title.
What do you get when you take everything you love about 1930’s crime films, John Ford and Sergio Leone Spaghetti westerns, the awesome samurai films from Akira Kurosawa, take out all of the reasons that make those films so cool and why you love them, and then mix it with shit-tons of CGI Matrix regurgitations covered in the most colorful of turds to ever grace plastic, and sprinkled with a bit of movie racism that hasn’t been seen since the completely awful Charlie Chan films or any of those films from the 1930’s to the 1950’s (maybe 1960’s) where (insert random white-guy to portray an Asian character)? You get this lump of crap written and directed by two individuals who clearly have no understanding of Asian culture let alone anything Japanese outside of movies and video games.
Obviously from the looks of it, this was a REALLY expensive turd.
Numerous times throughout this movie I have literally heard Gackt’s character Yoshi (probably because the only Japanese names the writer knows is from Nintendo games) referred as “The Oriental”. Really?!?!? Are we making movies in the 1970’s or 1980’s still?
The actors that are supposed to be Russian characters literally cannot even hold the accent together. They actually falter between speaking in a normal American accent to Russian and then back. The same can be said of the obviously Caucasian female actresses trying to play courtesans (geisha).
Ron Perlman’s character, Nicola “The Woodcutter”, is the most confusing. Is he supposed to be a shogun? A samurai? Norseman? A Russian? What? He speaks with a normal American accent, and plays the character as if he is still on the set for “Sons of Anarchy”.
As for Demi Moore as Nicola’s courtesan (geisha) love interest, her portrayal of the character is so one-dimensional that to even say it is flat won’t cover it. It is literally like she’s just there, but kind of not there, but then you literally don’t give a shit.
Woody Harrelson’s character could be any of the cardboard cutout bartender character that you find in films between westerns and crime. He also has a scene where he references “Spider-Man” through a pop-up book.
The action sequences literally take (steal) their cues from The Matrix, Kill Bill, Seven Samurai, Dollars Trilogy, and more all mashed into one film that even with the large horn swelling score behind it the effect is literally as flat as the acting. The stupidest fight scene was the one between Hartnett’s wannabe “Man With No Name” character and a guy on a trapeze swing and net.
The comic book and silhouette sections of the movie that are between the different scenes get to be annoying after you have seen them for the umpteenth time after every other movie that is not a comic book movie has done the same. I guess the writer and director ran out of the Japanese puppet show related items that the film takes its name from.
This film tries so hard to be too many things at once. Most notably whatever it can ripoff from Akira Kurosawa films, Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns, and whatever crime noir regurgitation films that the writer and director could find. The opening sequence is pretty much a ripoff of “West Side Story” and the opening scene from “Kung Fu Hustle”. The films visual style pretty much borrows (steals) from Tim Burton’s early films, as well as some heavy lifting from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Hell! The ending sequence can’t tell whether or not it wants to be two different samurai films.
To say this film is a mash-up would actually give you the impression that it might be good. Provided the person or persons writing and directing it understood the cultures that they wanted to represent in the films.
To call this film shit would actually be an insult to fecal matter everywhere. I think Japanese puppets should feel insulted and take revenge on the writer and director of this film.