There's a certain type of movie that I really enjoy seeing, but it's hard to articulate or justify what that "type" is. There are movies that you come across that feel like a labor of love. Someone had this cool idea for a movie and they went out and made the movie they wanted to make. These movies have a tendency to feel like an uncompromising freshman effort. Bunraku is one of these films.
It's the second movie written and directed by Guy Moshe and it tells the tale of a world where there aren't any guns (because of some half-explained apocalypse) and a cowboy drifter (Josh Hartnett) and the sort-of samurai or just generally-Japanese Yoshi (Gackt) have to team up to take down a powerful warlord. You have probably seen this movie a hundred times. It doesn't break any new ground with its narrative, but the generalized story it retreads is always fun to watch.
The strength of the film is the stylization. The sound editing in particular is interesting in that jazz tunes play over the fight scenes and some of the fights come across like dances, though with a different soundtrack you would hardly think that. Whenever the Drifter straightens his hat a sound like the clacking Game of Life wheel plays, so if you're a viewer how enjoys picking up on techniques like that there is a lot to look for in this film. The visual style lends to the uniqueness of the film in a way that's difficult to describe. The implied intent is to make the movie seem like a pop-up book and translated to film that means that most things are solid colors (you'll often see flat concrete streets and buildings) and also the transitions from scene to scene often involve the camera moving up over buildings which turn into animated buildings, and then descending into another part of the city. From a technical standpoint the film is very well made. For an action movie it feels very "non-Hollywood", that is, there's no sick guitar riffs and no 1,000 edits fight scenes. In fact, there's a scene that kind of echoed the hallway scene in Oldboy. You're in for an action more, but definitely an atypical one.
That said, the film has its share of problems. First, the narrator totally sounds like the announcer from the Soul Calibur games. He's over-the-top and silly in a way that I found endearing, and I think it sets a good tone for the movie, but it's easy to cal it "dumb".
Second, the affectations of Moshe's characters were just too much. The bad guy (Ron Perlman) is a woodcutter, just cuz. The Drifter is really good at cards, and is afraid of heights for no real reason. Yoshi is a Japanese guy in the way you would expect a Japanese guy to be Japanese. Another of the bad guys is a Scottish vegetarian for some reason. Everyone is firmly archetypal and at times it comes across as lazy.
Third, the acting is pretty hit and miss. Gackt seems to think that squinting at everything is "acting" and Demi Moore looks heavily sedated most of the time she's on screen.
Still, none of this prevented Bunraku from being enjoyable. It does enough right visually and aurally to be interesting even if it's not wholly original in its story or characters. Knowing nothing of the production process I can only make assumptions, but I'd like to think Bunraku is exactly the movie Moshe wanted to make, warts and all. There are better action movies out there for sure, and if you're just looking for something quasi-mindless, but still interesting you should check this one out.
This Samurai/Western hybrid takes place in a city where guns are banned and all the fighters wield swords, as a drifter aims to take down the crime boss Nicola the Woodcutter.
|review||Scott Pilgrim vs. the Kill Bill (3 out of 5)||etragedy|
|review||Bunraku Review (3 out of 5)||Nicked|
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