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Opens Aug. 29 (First Look Studios)
The classic spaghetti western “A Fistful of Dollars” was a virtual remake of “Yojimbo,” so it’s only fitting that a Japanese director should return the favor with his own take on the genre. Unfortunately, “Sukiyaki Western Django”–inspired not only by Sergio Leone but also by the cult favorite “Django” and other films too numerous to mention–comes across less as a tribute than a lame pastiche. It’s a tiresome retread that well displays director Takashi Miike’s tendency towards overkill but little of his imagination.
The film immediately signals its bid for cult status with the appearance of Quentin Tarantino in the prologue. Playing a gunfighter named “Ringo” who frames the story, the director, employing an indecipherable accent, is clearly having a good time. Alas, it’s not likely to be shared by the audience.
The story, closely mirroring its inspiration, concerns a mysterious gunslinger (Hideaki Ito) who arrives in a Nevada town only to be drawn into a drawn-out battle between two color-coded (red and white) warring clans.
As usual for this iconoclastic filmmaker, Miike is less interested in character or plot dynamics than in providing a series of ultra-violent showpieces. He does so here with his customary stylized visual elan, but the sheer repetitiveness of the over-the-top bloodshed ultimately detracts from its overall impact. Although the film has apparently been blessedly cut by some twenty minutes since its film festival rounds, it still suffers from serious bloat. Not helping matters is the fact that the Japanese actors speak their lines in what sounds like phonetically learned English, making their dialogue seem even lamer than it already is.
Cast: Hideaki Ito, Masanobu Ando, Koichi Sato, Kaori Momoi, Yusuke Iseya, Renji Ishibashi, Quentin Tarantino
Director: Takashi Miike
Screenwriters: Masaru Nakamura, Takashi Miike
Executive producers: Toshiaki Nakazawa, Nobuyuki Tohya
Co-Executive producer: Dick N. Sano
Producers: Hirotsugu Yoshida, Toshinori Yamaguchi
Director of photography: Toyomichi Kurita
Production designer: Takashi Sasaki
Music: Koji Endo
Costume designer: Michikio Kitamura
Editor: Taiji Shimamura
Rated R, 98 min
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