Category Archives: beat takashi

Sukiyaki Western Django

Sukiyaki Western Django ~ I wasn’t sure what to expect when I sat down to watch this one. While I am familiar with the works of Takashi Miike, I had no idea how he was going to meld the legend of spaghetti western anti-hero Django into some sort of modern day samurai western. The Django I knew was from director Sergio Cambucci and featured Franco Nero as the man who dragged a coffin behind him, which secretly held a gatling gun. The violent nature of the character and his world fit Takashi but still I wondered about what it was. In the end, I wonder if even Takashi knew what the film really was.

The tale is that of warring clans of feudal Japan, but taking place in some surreal old west, a world of both gunplay and swordplay, a Nevada in a Japanese desert. It is wholly unique, with hip pop cult blood running through its veins and down its legs. The Japanese actors speaking broken English is strange and awkward, but somehow fitting. Sergio Leone would have been proud, and he would have also been confused. Quentin Tarantino plays well in his cameo, but his scenes are painfully short. He might have saved this.

Oh, it’s pretty, and visually stunning. While it is a marvel to look at, even when it borderlines between cartoon and bad stage play, it really has no plot whatsoever and is just a series of fights and visuals one after another. Pretty with little substance, and bristling with winks and nods to several genres, it comes off more like a parody than an homage. And I doubt that’s what Takashi Miike was after. It hurts me as well. I love this stuff, and I didn’t want to laugh at it, I wanted to laugh along with it. Unfortunately the former happened more than the latter. Must see, but maybe only once, just for the visceral experience.

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Return of the Giant Chicken from Mars

Monster X Strikes Back: Attack at the G8 Summit ~ If you’re going to make a sequel to one of the silliest kaiju eiga, and do it with a straight face, the best way is probably to just make a comedy. That’s what the producers of 2008’s Girara no gyakushû: Tôya-ko Samitto Kikiippatsu did with this insane sequel to 1967’s The X from Outer Space. No apologies, no explanations, just balls out screwiness with Guilala, the monster that looks like a giant chicken from Mars.

In the midst of the G-8 Summit in Japan, Guilala returns from space. There is no reference to the first movie despite the film’s title and the fact that the name (and the lame monster suit) has not changed. One of my favorite scenes comes when a little kid, looking like he walked right out of a 1960s Gamera flick, wanders into the military staging room and provides a name for the monster, insisting he needed one. Each of the G-8 members spends the rest of the film trying hair-brained scheme after hair-brained scheme in attempts to destroy the creature.

Silliness on a Spaceballs scale follows throughout, though the humor rarely reaches beyond the fifth grade or the 1960s. Even Guilala has a laugh while dancing around his small soundstage that he seldom leaves. Beat Takashi makes a crazed appearance as a Daimajin knock-off late in the film, but it’s well worth the wait.

This is more fun that it should be, and funnier than it deserves to be, but worth a peek for kaiju eiga fans – but remember, don’t take it seriously.

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Brother

A Video Review of “Brother”

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

When it comes to Japanese gangster cinema Beat Takashi is The Man. As a director he is a masterful genius, as an actor he is invincible. He strides through this movie like Clint Eastwood through a 1960s Italian western – no one can touch him.

In Brother he comes to America and ruthlessly takes over territories and kills competition making friends and enemies as he goes along. This movie takes all the action of Hong Kong, all the attitude of gangsta rap, all the violence of American Mafia flicks and all the clever cool of the Britmob pics and mashes it together into a fine wine of cinema.

It’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” meets Goodfellas. Very violent, visually exciting, excellent cool. See it.

Warning – the above trailer is very violent and may be inappropriate for most audiences. It’s also very indicative of what you’ll see in the flick itself.