Sukiyaki Western Django Review
I want to shake off all of you who come to this film expecting a product inspired by QT because of his cameo in the film. Tarantino has found inspiration in Miike before, he stole the speech from Rainy Dog for Kill Bill that B speaks to Viveca Fox's daughter, but I think the comparison between the two does the more famous man no favours. This is because QT's work is currently drowning in homage and self-reference, whilst Miike transcends the ideas he uses and moves beyond his sources to his own unique artistic viewpoint.
Miike refuses to give in to normalcy or received morality. In following his inspirations thematically, at least in the Yojimbo plot of the stranger setting two gangs to war, he owns his influences but he also chooses to refuse their original message and ploughs his own, often unintelligible, furrow. You may watch this film despairing at the poor English of the cast, the confusing story or the logical incoherence, but if that is the case then you have learnt that this director ain't for you and that he doesn't intend to win you over by using familiar stories and ideas as you would expect. He wants to be difficult and hard to understand, and he does not want to simply re-tread someone else's path.
For some, such a mixed identity would be a sign of a crisis in the same. Is it a chanbara, a western, a play, or even ballet? Like the turncoat sheriff, does it become impossible for this film to have so many identities and remain uncompromisingly individual? For Miike though, this is no issue as it is diversity that he loves and he spans the Americas, the East and finally Europe, and he discovers the missing link between Corbucci, Shakespeare and Kurosawa. Django is one film inspired by many others from many places, but ultimately it is as determinedly individual as it could be. In short, I loved it.
Transfer and SoundThis release follows an earlier Japanese blu-ray disc which contained the longer cut of the film, by over 20 minutes, and Japanese and English TrueHD 6.1 tracks. This version is encoded in VC-1 and contains an English TrueHD 5.1 track, and a normal stereo track, with the option of Spanish and English subs if you find the dialogue a little impenetrable. The sound down mixed on my set-up to a 5.1 track which had plenty to recommend it in terms of atmospherics and clarity of reproduction, and possesses a strong sub-woofer channel so that sequences such as the dance routine, accompanied by drums, come alive.
Discs and Special FeaturesThe deleted scene reel runs for over 14 minutes and these scenes are presented in a full screen envelope with time codes and greatly diminished video quality. There is definitely more cut from the film with the shorter cut included here, but to be honest I liked the film more in this shorter cut and don't miss the longer running time.
The disc also includes a Japanese making of documentary which runs at around 52 minutes and is a mixture of arch reverence and the kind of narration that belongs in a corporate promotional film. The many references to "Team Miike" and the bizarre levels of respect given to a particularly rebellious director do jar a bit as we watch filming of key sequences and listen to cast and crew. The director is quite amusing when he admits that he has "mellowed recently" but that many of the crew may not survive filming!
There is a BD-Live link which did not work on my player and trailers for 4 other First Look releases. This is a single layer Region A encoded disc with the transfer taking 19.1GB of space. This edition also comes with a digital copy disc.
SummaryThe very expensive Japanese blu-ray contains more language options and the longer cut but I did feel that this shorter cut works better than the full two hour version. This release is an above average transfer with solid sound options and isn't it marvellous that we get such work available on this format.
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7 out of 10