Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bunraku

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Bunraku - 3 out of 5

I don't know if you know this or not but bunraku is a 400 year old form of Japanese puppetry that involves highly detailed puppets operated by several operators who dress entirely in black in order to blend into the background.  There I just dropped a little education on your asses...but I must confess, I looked up what bunraku was on Wikipedia, so I'm not that cool or smart.

But I'm here to talk about the movie Bunraku.

A sword fight seems like an inopportune moment to check your deodorant.

When a man has a mustache AND a soul patch,
you don't mess with him.
The movie is a Western/Martial Arts mixture about a dystopia future where all guns are banned and man returns to using their fists, feet, knives, swords or anything blunt they can get their mitts on in order to dish out some pain.  Westerns and Martial Arts seem to go together like peanut butter and chocolate, don't they?  Or peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and bananas or even peanut butter and celery.  Hmmm, I never noticed how well peanut butter plays with other foods.  Anyway, in this world, crime lords basically have the run of the mill--even though cops exist, they are basically controlled by the bad guys--and the decent citizens are starting to have their fill.  One crime lord, known as Nicola the Woodcutter, is one of the most powerful out there with an army second-to-none and keeps the regular folks under his thumb...until two mysterious strangers come to town.  One is a man who would be a gunslinger if guns were still around and the other is a samurai without a sword.  The two men, after meeting in a bar (don't worry, they didn't meet in a bar the way I try to meet ladies in a bar) decide to join forces and take out Nicola once and for all.  But they must go through his army and his trained killers, including his right-hand man; Killer Number 2.

The hat, on its own, is frightening and the axe only sells the fear.
 Before sitting down to watch this, I read some reviews on Rotten Tomatoes--normally I don't do this because I want to go into the film with only the trailer giving me the expectations.  The reviews were not pleasant and most didn't like the over-the-top, graphic novel look the film went for but I found that I disagreed with most of the critics on this one.

Woody took a break from killing zombies and smoking weed to be in Bunraku.
Bunraku isn't going to win an Academy Award.  The film isn't ripe with gripping emotion and the story isn't something that will captivate you with twist, turns and surprises.  Bunraku is plain and simple--it's an over-the-top, highly fantasized action film with pretty colors, great fight scenes and cool characters.   And I don't mean cool characters as in, "these people are complex and deep" type of cool.  I mean like, "hey, that guy dresses better than I do, has a epic mustache and does some neat fighting stuff" type of cool.

"Whoa, look...two dogs doing it."
The movie feels like it was a graphic novel that somehow ripped itself from the pages and pasted itself onto the screen.  The sets give the appearance of origami and often look like they were made for a high school play.  I know that sounds bad but given that the movie took its title from a form of Japanese puppetry and the overall style of the film, these sets really work in the movie's favor and continue to sell the "out-of-the-ordinary" experience.

I thought Demi Moore gave up acting to marry an annoying douche bag?

I think Ron Pearlman is the only white guy who
can pull off the dreadlocks look.
Along with really great fight scenes, the movie offers up a decent cast as Ron Pearlman plays the evil Woodcutter, Woody Harrelson plays a bartender who is instrumental in getting our two heroes to work together, Josh Hartnett is the gunman with no gun, Gackt (yeah, that's his name) is the samurai but the man who really steals the film is Kevin McKidd maning it up after joining the cast of Grey's Anatomy as Killer Number 2.  His body language on how he plays the character is quite amusing to watch.  However, one piece of casting is kind of a mystery...and that is Demi Moore is in it.  While she wasn't terrible in her role, the reality is her character offers little to the story.  She has a part to play but when you get right down to it, you could have edited her out entirely and the film wouldn't have looked any different.

Killer Number 2 and his eccentric style of fighting really made the movie.
 Bunraku isn't a blockbuster.  It won't shake the foundation of what an action film should be but the overall look of the film and its composition of unique sets, use of color to best display emotion and an overly departure from your typical action movie with its one-of-a-kind style make Bunraku a movie worth picking up and giving a shot.  Even if the film's look doesn't get you, at least you'll get to see some cool fights.

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