Review: 'Sukiyaki Western Django'

This riff on spaghetti westerns gets a Japanese twist as two Samurai fight it out over a batch of gold.

An over-extended riff on a bevy of Italian spaghetti westerns (starting with Sergio Corbucci's iconic "Django," Akira Kurasawa's "Yojimbo," and the recent work of his American friends Richard Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino), Takashi Miike's "Sukiyaki Western Django" is just the nonsensical stewpot of a movie that the title suggests. Miike, having worked in nearly every major genre and averaging two to three movies annually, makes too many for his own sanity. It's the white-clad Genji clan vs. the red-garbed Heike clan, with a lonesome gunslinger (Hideaki Ito) in the middle – and a fought-over batch of gold worth killing for – but this is essentially Samurai clans putting on chaps and firing their Colts. Miike's conceptual control of an artificial world of painted backdrops and "western" towns is a stroke of loony inspiration, but his decision to shoot in heavily accented English is disastrous. Speaking of Tarantino, who should never be allowed to act under any circumstance, he's cast in a key storytelling role, and it's one indication among many that the whole project is little more than a stunt. Grade: C (Rated R for strong violence, including a rape.)

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