Josh Hartnett as The Drifter
Demi Moore as Alexandra
Woody Harrelson as The Bartender
Ron Perlman as Nicola
Kevin McKidd as Killer 2
Gackt as Yoshi
Shun Sugata as Uncle
Jordi Mollà as Valentine
Emily Kaiho as Momoko
Directed by Guy Moshe
Commentary by Director Guy Moshe & Actor Kevin McKidd
Dolby Digital 5.1 Sound
Running Time: 125 Minutes
The following is the official description of the film:
“A mysterious drifter (Josh Hartnett) and a young Japanese Warrior Yoshi (Gackt) both arrive in a town that has been terrorized by outrageous and virulent criminals. Each is obsessed with his seperate mission, and guided by the wisdom of The Bartender (Woody Harrelson) at the Horseless Horseman Saloon, the two eventually join forces to bring down the corrupt and contemptuous reign of Nicola (Ron Perlman), the awesomely evil woodcutter and his lady Alexandra (Demi Moore), a femme fatale with a secret past.”
“Bunraku” is rated R for bloody violence and language.
I went into “Bunraku” knowing absolutely nothing about it, but I went into it with an open mind looking forward to what I hoped would be a good action film. That’s not what I got.
So as the movie starts, we see a puppet show with dinosaurs fighting each other. Not what I expected, but OK. It then shows stop motion animation of another World War. It’s a strange way to depict the apocalypse, but I was still on board. The main story then kicks in and we learn about a series of killers using swords in this new world. We’re then introduced to them in a world that looks like it came from the Dick Tracy movie. The sets are all bright primary colors and they’re very stylized. OK, it was an odd choice for the post-apocalypse, but I was still following them. The killers then appear… and start a dance number like it’s straight out of “Chicago” or “West Side Story.” I thought, “OK, this is like a stage production of an action movie. Odd, but I’ll stick with it.” But strangely enough, they never revisited the musical aspect of the opening number. The story progresses and we’re treated to a Western world, then a Japanese world, then a mashed up version of both. It ends up being a fantasy world very similar to that in “The Warrior’s Way” where they mixed up the Western world with Asian in a post-apocalyptic type of environment. But here it just seems to be a bit more schizophrenic. In fact, that pretty well describes this entire movie. It’s like the creators threw everything they liked into a blender, mixed it up, then dumped it all on the screen. Parts of it work, but most of it does not. It’s a good looking film, I’ll give it that, but overall it’s just going in too many different directions and never settles on one long enough to make it work.
The cast is filled with favorites like Ron Perlman, Woody Harrelson, and Demi Moore but they aren’t enough to save this movie. Japanese pop star “Gackt” is also in it. He’s got a strange kind of androgynous look. He’s very unusual, but he handles the action well. Newcomer Emily Kaiho also has an interesting look to her as Momoko. She’s got a pixie thing going that’s very cinematic. It will be interesting to see what she does in the future.
I’m not sure who to recommend “Bunraku” to. I think if you like very unusual action movies or genre mash-ups, this might be of interest to you. But overall, I found this to be a big disappointment.
They skimped on the bonus features for this DVD, too. You’ll find a commentary and a trailer, but that’s it.