HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Elvis: That's the Way It Is
Man Who Laughs, The
Watch List
Giraffe
Kat and the Band
Echo
Perfect 10
Octaman
Red Penguins
China Syndrome, The
Babyteeth
Round-Up, The
Around the Sun
Once There Was Brasilia
Peripheral
Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street
Ice
She Demons
Good Girls, The
Hail, Hero!
Faces in the Crowd
Tamango
Traitor, The
Tomorrow
Third Generation, The
Saxon Charm, The
Spy Intervention
Moonrise
Mulan
Killer with a Thousand Eyes, The
Vigil, The
Liberation of L.B. Jones, The
Wizard of Baghdad, The
Ride
Good Manners
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Sweet Home
Big Score, The
Siddhartha
Three Outlaw Samurai
   
 
Newest Articles
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights in with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
The Beat Goes On: Takeshi Kitano Collection on Blu-ray
Dream Treats: Scorsese Shorts on Blu-ray
It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray
A Regular Terpsichore: Dance, Girl, Dance on Blu-ray
Teenage Trauma: Baby Love on Blu-ray
The Happening: Pet Shop Boys It Couldn't Happen Here on Blu-ray
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
   
 
  Bunraku Punch-ups in a papier mache puppet theatre
Year: 2010
Director: Guy Moshe
Stars: Josh Hartnett, Woody Harrelson, Gackt, Kevin McKidd, Ron Perlman, Demi Moore, Jordi Molla, Shun Sugata, Emily Kaiho, Mike Patton
Genre: Action, Thriller, Martial Arts, Weirdo, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Set in a retro-forties origami city that literally folds into different shapes, Bunraku follows the exploits of two enigmatic heroes newly arrived in town: a nameless drifter (Josh Hartnett) with amazing martial arts and gambling skills and a redoubtable samurai named Yoshi (Gackt). Both men share a burning desire to kill the city’s reigning crime boss and “most powerful man east of the Atlantic”, Nicola the Woodcutter (Ron Perlman). But first they must fight their way through the ranks of Nicola’s top henchmen led by lethally psychotic tap-dancing dandy Killer No. 2 (Kevin McKidd).

Drawing its title from a four-hundred year old form of Japanese puppet theatre, Bunraku fuses elements from westerns and chanbara films, incorporating puppetry and computer animation into one of the most intriguingly idiosyncratic action movies in recent times. Its polished artifice has drawn some comparisons with Sin City (2005), which also featured Josh Hartnett, but writer-director Guy Moshe and his cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchia ditch the tired, over-familiar noir shadowy style in favour of vibrant comic book colours reminiscent of Vittorio Storaro’s work on Dick Tracy (1990).

On close inspection, the film owes its major stylistic debt to the work of Japanese maverick Seijun Suzuki. The jazzy ethos, tongue-in-cheek humour at once parodic yet celebratory, the colour coded costumes and avant-garde storytelling incorporating an array of theatrical techniques, even the numerically-monickered hitmen evoke such Suzuki classics as Tokyo Drifter (1966) and Pistol Opera (2001). The film would make an interesting double-bill with Sngmoo Lee’s underrated The Warrior’s Way, another wild west meets martial arts fusion headlined by an Asian superstar, released around the same time but featuring a more compelling storyline with more relatable characters.

Moshe dawdles detailing his densely layered mythology and fumbles several promising sub-plots that fail to bring sufficient levels of human drama to draw viewers through this oddball world. His numerous, indulgent though undeniably audacious visual flourishes may not always propel the plot forward but prove arresting enough to paper over any longeurs. For all its surreal set-pieces and super-stylized action, Bunraku spins a disarmingly melancholy tale where heroes bemoan past mistakes, lost loves and missed opportunities. Moshe may recycle a few stale clichés about the bushido code and necessity of revenge, but the film sports a pleasingly poetic and philosophical edge and remains free of the sadism and misogyny that mar many western pastiches of the martial arts film.

While the script may be patchy, the entire cast enters into the spirit of the piece with great gusto. Hartnett and J-pop superstar Gackt spark very well off each other in a charismatic pairing that recalls past east-meets-westerns such as Red Sun (1971) and The Stranger and the Gunfighter (1975). Beautiful newcomer Emily Kaiho makes a notable impression as Yoshi’s plucky young cousin and Kevin McKidd acquits himself surprisingly well as a sinister badass equal parts Fred Astaire and Frank Gorshin. Most surprisingly perhaps, Demi Moore gives a spirited performance as Nicola’s dejected whore girlfriend and is reunited with Woody Harrelson as part of a vague sub-plot that seems like a jokey nod to Indecent Proposal (1993). Fans of Asian fantasy cinema will have few problems with Bunraku’s whimsical tone than those with staunchly mainstream tastes, but if the film is not always coherent on a story level it remains fascinating for fans of offbeat and ambitious action fare.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1700 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Paul Smith
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: