Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 13th, 2008
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
BluRay released: November 11th, 2008
Approximate running time: 98 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Sound: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
BluRay Release: First Look Studios
Region Coding: Region A
Retail Price: $34.98
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.
First Look Studios presents Sukiyaki Western Django in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Colors look vibrant and flesh tones look accurate. Black levels are strong and details look razor sharp throughout. The transfer is an improvement over the standard definition DVD releases for the film and favors comparably with the Japanese region 2 DVD release from Geneon Entertainment.
This release comes with two audio options a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 English audio mix and a Dolby Digital 5.1 English audio mix. You really can’t go wrong with either audio mix as they are both sound clear, evenly balanced, robust and free of any audio defects. Removable English SDH and Spanish subtitle options have been included.
Extras for this release include a theatrical trailer for the film and trailers for other titles available from First Look Studios. Other extras include fourteen and 1/2 minutes of deleted scenes and a fifty two minute behind the scenes documentary that features extensive on the set footage. This documentary is narrated and features some brief comments from director Takashi Miike. Also included with this release is a second disc that includes a digital copy of the film which you can upload to your computer. A major extra which is missing from this release and is present on the Japanese region 2 DVD release from Geneon Entertainment is an audio commentary track with Takashi Miike. The biggest drawback of First look Studio’s release of Takashi Miike’s Sukiyaki Western Django is that it is twenty three minutes shorter than the Japanese region 2 DVD release from Geneon Entertainment. Overall Sukiyaki Western Django gets a good audio/video presentation and comes with a handful of extras.