Sunday, 15 January 2012



Generally speaking, I'm a big fan of colour film. I don't mind black-and-white, I loved The Artist, I certainly don't mean to suggest that Casablanca or Son Of Frankenstein should have been made in garish three-strip Technicolour, and the mere presence of greens and reds doesn't make Carry On Up The Jungle a better film than A Night At The Opera. On occasions, imaginative and unsparing use of excessive colour can help transform the movie into an unreal, surreal nightmare - the most obvious example would be Dario Argento's glorious Suspiria. Or it can be used to evoke something else entirely, such as the primary-coloured nonsense of Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy designed with the newspaper strip's colour scheme in mind.

The retina-punching colour palette chosen for Bunraku is just part of the wildly stylised look: it's a post-nuclear martial-arts action movie with heavy Spaghetti Eastern overtones, shot on theatrical-looking studio sets and interspersed with brief animations that either look like cut-up cardboard or Maurice Binder title sequences. Everything's drenched in scarlet, green, magenta or orange (or any combination of the four), many of the villains wear natty red suits and there's barely a shot goes by that hasn't been colour-coordinated to death. Sometime after the apocalypse, possibly somewhere in the Far East, a nameless drifter (Josh Hartnett) arrives in town seeking an unspecified vengeance against the local crime boss Nicola The Woodcutter (Ron Perlman with dreadlocks). He teams up with a samurai warrior (Japanese TV and music star Gackt) seeking a medallion stolen by The Woodcutter, and a nameless bartender (Woody Harrelson) to take on his nine top killers and his army of red-suited henchmen in order to reach the Woodcutter for a final confrontation and to exact revenge

Bunraku is actually a form of 17th century Japanese puppetry, and there are moments when cardboard cutouts on strings are dangled before the camera (although if Wikipedia is to be believed, it's not really that kind of puppetry so I'm not entirely sure what the point of the title is). The palette of the movie is overdrenched in coloured filters and looks like Kill Bill Volume 1, The Warrior's Way, Speed Racer and Sukiyaki Western Django, and Sin City if it had been in colour. And it's generally quite enjoyable fare: it's too long at a scratch over two hours, some of the dialogue is terrible, the Japanese language sequences aren't subtitled, and The Drifter's motivation is pretty feeble, but it's entertaining and visually fascinating, with a good cast (Demi Moore and Kevin McKidd show up as well). Mysteriously, it doesn't appear to have any main credit sequence.


Buy It Here!!

No comments: