If imitation be the sincerest form of
flattery, the makers of films such as Sukiyaki Western Django,
Kung Fu Hustle, The Good, The Bad, The Weird and Scott
Pilgrim vs The World must be feeling very flattered indeed by the
118 minutes of fulsome praise for their work that is Bunraku.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world were bombs
and firearms have been outlawed in an attempt to curb manís supposedly
limitless capacity for wanton self-destruction, the film sees a nameless
drifter (Josh Harnett) drift his way into an urban hellhole terrorised
by the interestingly-named villain Nicola the Woodcutter (Hellboyís
Ron Perlman). After indulging in a bit of chit chat with a sassy
barkeep (Woody Harrelson), the drifter joins forces with a Japanese
swordsman in an attempt to bring down the nefarious Nicola and his
A shameless amalgam of filmic parlour
tricks that have been done better elsewhere by vastly more experienced
magicians of the screen, Bunraku is so achingly self-conscious
that it destroys any chance the viewer has to become immersed in its
technicolour pastiche of comic book sensibilities.
Director Guy Moshe, whose previous film was
the affecting and beautifully shot debut Holly (2007), seems to
be out of his depth in the hyperreal milieu so comfortably inhabited by
Tarantino, Edgar Wright, Takeshi Miike and their ilk, clumsily throwing
in everything but the kitchen sink in an attempt to appear hip and
edgy. Thereís nothing arch in Mosheís nods to his predecessors,
however, and for a film so brimming with visual splendour and computer
generated trickery the end result is curiously colourless. Itís also
nowhere near as self-aware or sophisticated as it thinks it is; most
worryingly, though, it simply isnít much fun.
None, unless you count the trailers that
take forever to load and have to be skipped through individually before
the main menu can be accessed. This is annoying Iím actually going to
have to award a negative score for bonus features in this instance.