Is your heart bleeding with love? I didn’t think so.
Hello again. This is me, as usual, on the blog. However, I don’t only spend my days blogging (in fact, I sometimes spend far less time than I should). Sometimes, I wander over to the ol’ Netflix and chill for a bit. On one such occasion, I came across a rather strange movie that I had never heard of, despite the fact that the cast featured several names that I was familiar with.
The film I speak of is the 2010 movie Bunraku, directed by Guy Mosche. It stars Josh Hartnett as a drifter, Woody Harrelson as a bartender, Gackt (wait, what?) as a samurai, Demi Moore as a concubine, and Ron Perlman as a warrior/mob boss. You can imagine how confused I was when I saw the cast list. However, I am not so easily taken aback, so I continued to the premise.
Bunraku takes place in a world where guns have been banned. The city that is our main setting is controlled by the most powerful man east of the Atlantic, Nicola the Woodcutter (played by Perlman). Those who wish to challenge him must first go through his large group of trained assassins, numbered 2 through 9.
We begin our story with a man known as the Drifter (played by Hartnett), walking into a bar. The owner (played by Harrelson) gives him a drink and after some shady conversation where we learn nothing, Hartnett goes off to do something else. We then meet our other protagonist, a samurai named Yoshi (played by Gackt). He is meeting with his uncle who owns the sushi restaurant in town, the restaurant which happens to be the favorite of Nicola. Yoshi argues with his uncle, asking for his help in finding the gold medallion which belonged to his family. It was stripped from a corpse of one of his family who fought in the great war long ago. He believes that Nicola knows where the medallion is.
The Drifter arrives at the local casino and asks to play the boss himself, Nicola. He wants to meet Nicola, somehow, face to face, but we don’t know why. He is told that the buy in for the poker game which Nicola comes to is not cheap. The Drifter… drifts off to come up with the money by Friday. As fate would have it, Yoshi and the Drifter cross paths and their journey to get to Nicola begins.
It is not a great movie, by any measure. Instead of greatness, this movie aims for a high level of uniqueness, which I think it achieves. First off, any cast that includes names like Harrelson, Hartnett and Gackt of all people has to be considered unique. Second, you have the setting. The pop-up book aesthetic mixed with a kaleidoscope construction of scenery proved to be really interesting and gave it a very “fictional” or imaginary feel. Evoking themes found in other media which make us wonder is a good way to transfer that same awe to your own work. Next, you have the Western and samurai influences. Both the fighting styles and the set pieces have either a Wild West or oriental bent to them. I like both of these things, and so despite it being nonsensical, I was all in for having them combined. “That’s sick dude!” would not be an inaccurate description for my state of mind.
All in all, what we have here is not a spectacular film by any means. However, much like a hamburger, it had a beginning, middle and end, all of which lack much of what could be considered substance, but I since I don’t consume something like this all that often, I don’t really regret the indulgence. It was enjoyable and I can appreciate it for what it was.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading and have a great day.
P.S. Bonus rant: I would like to say some stuff real quick. What is up with movie reviewers? I read a few of the more critical professional reviews about this movie, and they panned it for having a lazy script and for being purely fancy decoration with no substance. Who cares? If you were going into Bunraku believing that you were going to get the same intellectual journey as 1984, why are you blaming the movie for your disappointment when it was your idiocy that created that expectation in the first place? I feel like critics now have seen too many pieces of cinema gold and are now holding a noose to every fun action flick because wasn’t Citizen Kane. Look guys, I like the classics. I miss the classics. But I don’t eat steak every day, sometimes I go to McDonalds. I am not sure why critics feel the need to give such harsh reviews to films when the purpose is for pure enjoyment. Are they scared that enjoying Bunraku is going to lead to some trend of poorly written movies, and it is their sworn duty to protect our impressionable minds from such influences by giving bad reviews and causing those movies to tank at the box office? Come on now, get of your high horse. Your 5/10 reviews are doing nothing but spitting on entertainment for no other reason but to give yourself a pat on the back for liking Stanley Kubrick. What the heck man. I wouldn’t be so pissed if it wasn’t for the fact that a lot of people worked hard to create something entertaining, only for other people to do no work at all and condemn it on the basis that it didn’t meet their particular standards of greatness on all levels. Obviously somebody has been watching way too many art house films and has lost their appreciation for simple fun. Maybe it has just gotten to the point where, when you do something for a long enough time, you begin to lose your appreciation for that thing. So critics, take a break and watch TMNT with a bag of greasy popcorn and get off Metacritic for one godforsaken minute. Thank you.