A lone gunman rides into a small town being ravaged by a war between two rival gangs.
Rather than yet another remake, Sukiyaki Western Django is more an amalgam of Yojimbo and its most celebrated cover version, A Fistful of Dollars. It’s obvious why Quentin Tarantino got involved because it is exactly the kind of idiosyncratic, genre-clashing cinematic remix that has become his bread and butter. Full of quirky characters, tongue in cheek humour and cartoon violence, this is really a super-stylised gangster movie that’s both an affectionate homage and parody of the American western. Reminding me most of the post modern westerns of Robert Rodriguez and Sam Raimi’s The Quick And The Dead, this semi-humorous update of a cinematic icon is also quite reminiscent of Takeshi Kitano’s Zatoichi. The biggest problem with it is Takashi Miike’s decision to make the actors speak English; I can see why he did it, but the cast’s grasp of the language is limited at best to the point where I had to switch the subtitles on – a fact that made me feel like an isolationist hick. This obviously seriously compromises the dialogue and its delivery, which is fine during the action sequences but character driven drama goes straight out of the window.
A bit like Hot Fuzz, it’s probably a film that will be appreciated a lot more by an audience who get the references and if you can get past the language barrier – and I can see how some wouldn’t – it’s actually a lot of fun.