Written by: Michael Den Boer on January 31st, 2009
Theatrical Release Date:Japan, September 15th, 2007
Director: Takashi Miike
Writers: Takashi Miike, Masa Nakamura
Cast: Yoshino Kimura, Hideaki Ito, Koichi Sato, Masanobu Ando, Yusuke Iseya, Teruyuki Kagawa, Kaori Momoi, Quentin Tarantino
DVD released: February 2nd, 2009
Approximate running time: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: DTS English, Dolby Digital 5.1 English, Dolby Digital Stereo English
DVD Release: Contender Home Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £15.99
Takashi Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django is the most satisfying, entertaining and revolutionary western since Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven. The evolution of the western has taken some interesting turns over the years from its early days with John Ford and John Wayne. In the 1960’s the Italians revived the western with their slant on the genre which is often referred to as Spaghetti Westerns. Since the decline of the Spaghetti western in the early 1970’s very few westerns have been released that can claim the status of classic. The Japanese like the Italians have made films in just about every genre that has emerged out of Hollywood except the western which only a few films from this genre were ever made before Sukiyaki Western Django. It is almost appropriate that part of the title for Takashi Miike’s western takes a name of food that is closely associated with the Japanese culture in the same way how the Italians westerns obtained the nickname Spaghetti for their westerns.
Fans of the style associated with the Spaghetti western will quickly pick up on director Takashi Miike’s many references to films from this genre. Takashi Miike also employees all the stylistic cliché’s that one comes to expect visually from a Spaghetti western. To simply write off Sukiyaki Western Django as a remake of Sergio Corbucci’s Django or as a film filled with pastiches’ from other Spaghetti westerns completely missing the point of the film which is an entity all of its own. One way to approach Sukiyaki Western Django is too look at it as a more of prequel to Django then a remake.
The action is fast, bloody and unflinching just like the old west it pays homage too. The cast (excluding Quentin Tarantino) in the film all speak English despite it being their second language. They are all easy to understand except the actor who portrays the leader of the “Reds”. Having the cast speak English is an odd but appropriate choice which follows the blue print set by Spaghetti western that were often dubbed in several different languages. You don’t have to have any knowledge or have seen any of the films that are being referenced to find enjoyment or being able to follow the story.
The only part of the film that I found out of place was the casting of Quentin Tarantino whose performances is the weakest in the film. The casting of Quentin Tarantino is kind of ironic since all of his films are pastiches’ of other films. Even though Quentin Tarantino is known for his film pastiches Takashi Miike out does him with Sukiyaki Western Django his homage to the Spaghetti western genre.
Contender Home Entertainment presents Sukiyaki Western Django in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. Colors look accurate and nicely saturated with healthy looking flesh tones. Black levels are strong and details look razor sharp throughout. There are no problems with compression, artifacts and edge enhancement. Overall Contender Home Entertainment’s transfer is on par with the transfers for the Japanese and U.S. DVD releases.
This release comes with three audio options DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital Stereo. All three audio mixes are in English. All around all the audios sounds clear, evenly balanced and robust. Also provided with this release are removable English subtitles that are easy to read and follow.
Extras for this release include a brief Q&A with Quentin Tarantino (4 minutes 18 seconds) and sixteen minutes of deleted scenes (4:3 Letterboxed Widescreen). Of note the last five minutes of deleted scenes are presented in a picture in picture mode which shows the differences between the longer Japanese cut of the film and the shorter international cut of the film. This DVD release from Contender Home Entertainment is the International cut of the film. Overall Sukiyaki Western Django makes its UK DVD debut via Contender Home Entertainment’s well rounded DVD release.