The Absurdist Bloodshed of Takashi Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django


Whether it’s score-settling culture theft, a fever dream of interlinked Wild West mythology, or simply a company casserole of way-cool cinema, this delirious spaghetti eastern could only have come from the boiling brain of Takashi Miike, the prolific Japanese auteur whose spectacularly uneven films account for the lion’s share of the past decade’s most utterly batshit movie moments. His quota increases exponentially with this Yojimbo/A Fistful of Dollars riff about an ace gunslinger (Hideaki Ito) caught between color-coded clans in a suspiciously Nipponese Nevada town, where samurai swords and post-apocalyptic costumes vie for dominance with Gatling guns and cowboy suits. Delivered entirely in phonetic English for unneeded additional derangement, the garbled, woozily re-created dialogue adds another layer of movie fetishism to the whirling duster coats, blazing six-guns, and Mexican stand-offs cribbed from Sergios Leone and Corbucci. The director also borrows favorite tropes from sources as far-rangingas Rambo and Sam Raimi’s The Quick and the Dead, enlisting no less a fellow magpie than Quentin Tarantino in the Pai Mei role of special-guest gunfighter. (Pointing that can-opener jaw and speaking in tongues, he sounds like Elvis on an udon binge.) And yet the absurdist bloodshed, anime-to-painted-backdrop stylization, and jarring tone shifts belong to no other director, and so too the stretches of tedium between outrages. Still, the widescreen framing and saturated color make this one of Miike’s most visually impressive features.