Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bunraku (2010) - February Filmathon Film #1

On the Menu: BUNRAKU (2010)

Ingredients: Josh Hartnett, Woody Harrelson, Kevin McKidd, Ron Perlman, Demi Moore and Gackt. Directed by Guy Moshe. Run time: 124 minutes. Rated: R.

At First Bite:
I passed on this one at last year's ActionFest in favor of BELLFLOWER and A LONELY PLACE TO DIE. In all honesty, I cannot stand to look at Josh Hartnett.

In a world where guns have been outlawed, a cowboy/drifter (Hartnett) who plays cards, a samurai (Gackt) with no sword and a bartender (Harrelson) who makes pop-up books team up to take on a major crime boss (Perlman) and his 9 assassins.

Sounds fun, right?

Tough to Swallow: This movie is way too long and there was really no need for Demi Moore's character.

Aside from Harrelson, I found the acting to be pretty stale.

I wasn't too impressed with the martial arts sequences.

As odd as this movie is, the video game sound effects used in the prison fight seemed hokey.

Something to Chew On: Bunraku is a 400-year-old form of Japanese puppet theater.

The Bartender has a Yang tattoo under his right ear. Alexandra has Yin.

Mike Patton, the lead singer of Faith No More, is the narrator. His "Happy birthday, fucker" line preceding the prison fight is from his song "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies."

Aftertaste: Style points galore. The movie opens up with some bunraku and eases its way into a CGI backstory made to look like origami. Cityscapes and the final scene unfold as though from a pop-up book like that of the bartender. Settings have a strong graphic novel appearance, as do the subtitles for Yoshi and his family. The film is splashed full of bright colors, mostly reds and blues.

I was often reminded of DICK TRACY, THE WARRIOR'S WAY, SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD, SIN CITY and musicals. There's no singing, but were times when I felt the gangs might bust out in song. I mean, some of the fight choreography was on the verge of dancing already. And, McKidd's Killer #2 has hints of Gene Kelly.

As visually stunning as BUNRAKU is at times, the story and acting just didn't do it for me. Well, in a world made to look like paper, why wouldn't the characters be paper-thin, right?

It might have been easier to take had it been 30 minutes shorter... and with puppets.


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