Sukiyaki Western Django [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - First Look Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Andreas Petersen (16th December 2008).
The Film

"Sukiyaki Western Django" has taken two of my greatest cinematic loves, and combined them into one film. First, I love spaghetti westerns. For whatever reason, they just resonate with me more than most films do. Secondly, I love Takashi Miike films. I have yet to see a single movie of his that I didnít enjoy thoroughly, and he has even directed what is in my opinion one of the greatest films ever made ("The Bird People in China" (1998)). So one can imagine my excitement when I heard that Miike was working on his own special take on the spaghetti western. My anticipation for the film could hardly be described, and now Iíve seen it. Did it live up to my expectations? Mostly.

Django tells the story of two rival gangs, one red, and one white. The film opens with a mildly confusing introduction to the story (with a cameo by director Quentin Tarantino), setting up that for some reason, these two gangs hate each other. Fast forward a few decades, and the gangs are still at war in a small town in Nevada. One day, an unnamed gunman (Hideaki Ito) enters town. Both gangs want to recruit him, but as events unfold, he works best alone. Through the film, he befriends some downtrodden characters with their own messed up pasts, while taking down the red and white gangs himself.

I feel as though I should be able to offer a more exact description of the movie, but this pertains to one of my biggest complaints. I canít honestly explain, at least not thoroughly, what happened in this film. I know that thereís a guy who kills some other guys, and those guys killed some dudes, and thereís a flashback or two where people get killed, and so on and so forth. One of the reasons I found the movie so hard to follow is because, while having an almost entirely Japanese cast, English is spoken throughout the film. This harkens back to old spaghetti westerns, where Italian actors would be brought in, but the lines are spoken in English, and dubbed later with American actors. However, Miike has stopped at just having his cast speak English, and I hate to say, that on more than one occasion, I couldnít understand what was being said. I felt as though I was missing key points in the film, and at times felt completely lost. However, this hardly limited my enjoyment of the film.

Where Django is lacking in coherent plot, it makes up for it in every single aspect of the film. First and foremost, Django is a visual feast for the eyes. I may even go as far to say that on a purely aesthetic level, "Sukiyaki Western Django" may be one of the best looking movies I have ever seen. With a combination of genius directing and Miikeís amazing eye for color, coupled with unbelievably elaborate costumes and sets, I never felt bored just looking at the film. It was like watching thousands of beautiful paintings pass by my eyes. The filmís music, violence, and dialogue are also intensely stylized, and round out a completely out-there package.

The movie, at times, feels uneven, but again, I didnít think too much of this. Those unfamiliar with Miike will not know that he very well may be the most versatile director working today. The man has made family comedies like "Zebraman' (2004), horror films such as "One Missed Call" (2003), dramas with "The Bird People in China" (1998), and strait up splatter films like "Ichi the Killer" (2001), all of which I think were effective in their genres. So it comes as no surprise that this passion project from Miike should feel as disjointed as his whole body of works. At times, the film feels like a mad-cap comedy, with characters having clear holes blown through them, turning to the camera, and whispering ďDang.Ē At other times, the film is downright disturbing, including a scene in which a person is attempting to rape a woman who is dying, after having an arrow shot through her chest. And at other times, the film just feels like a solid western, with amazing shootouts and entirely cheesy dialogue.

So on the level of aesthetic pleasure, "Sukiyaki Western Django" succeeds in aces. On terms of plot, it doesnít fare as well. Overall, I liked the film, and had a hell of a time watching it. I just wish the package were more complete, instead of just a pretty good movie.

Video

"Sukiyaki Western Django" is presented in a 1080p 24/fps high-definition 2.35:1 transfer and has been mastered with VC-1 compression, and the results are just stunning. A movie like this, that is focused so harshly on color and atmosphere, would be disserviced on any other format I believe. Every color pops out completely clear, and there is nearly no grain to be seen in the scenes set in the present (as I believe the flashback scenes are meant to be grainy). This disc is a perfect example of how recent movies on Blu-ray should look.

Audio

"Sukiyaki Western Django" is offered with an English Dolby True HD 5.1 audio track, as well as a standard English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The sound is clear as a bell, and whatís there works well. However, I never felt like my HD Surround set-up had anything spectacular to work with. Considering this movie has elaborate gun fights and explosions, I never felt my room shake or like I was in the middle of the action. Again, what is there sounds great, but I just feel like there was something missing.
Optional subtitles are included in both English for the hearing impaired and Spanish.

Extras

"Sukiyaki Western Django" is offered with a few extras, including deleted scenes, a "making-of" documentary, and a few bonus trailers as well as a digital copy of the film. They are further explained below:

DISC ONE:

First up is a set of deleted scenes, which runs for 14 minutes and 28 seconds. I actually found most of the deleted scenes to be quite interesting, and actually added some depth to the otherwise shallow characters. However, at the filmís running time of 1 hour and 40 minutes approximately, it is easy to see why these scenes were cut, for as explained earlier, the characters and plot of the film play second fiddle to the visuals, and these scenes would have surely bogged down the filmís pace.

Next, "The Making of The Sukiyaki Western Django" documentary, which runs for 52 minutes and 40 seconds, is an amazingly thorough look at the production of the film from beginning to end. The cast and crew are interviewed throughout, and certain aspects of the film, such as why Miike chose to have English dialogue only, how it was to work with horses, and what the whole thing ultimately means. I always love hearing what Miike has to say, and this great making-of is no exception.

The film also includes bonus trailers for some other films, and they are:

- "Trasnssiberian" which runs for 1 minute and 39 seconds.
- "War Inc." which runs for 1 minute and 55 seconds.
- "August" which runs for 1 minute and 16 seconds.
- "Priceless" which runs for 1 minute and 11 seconds.

The disc also features BD-Live connectivity for those with a profile 2.0 player.

DISC TWO:

The set also includes a digital copy of the film on this second disc.

Overall

The Film: B- Video: A+ Audio: B- Extras: B+ Overall: B

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.