Posted 13 years ago by myetvmedia

Guy Moshe’s latest film, Bunraku, is ambitious to say the least.  In a world with no guns, a mysterious drifter (Josh Hartnett) and master samurai (Gackt) find their paths intertwined after a chance meeting.  The drifter, a man out for revenge, and the samurai, a man looking to reclaim an ancient family medallion, manage to put aside their mutual distrust and work together.  Aided by a bartender (Woody Harrelson) with intimate knowledge of the region and its major players, they pursue their target, the most powerful man east of the Atlantic, Nicola the Woodcutter (Ron Pearlman).  However, the drifter and the samurai must first contend with Nicola’s nine greatest warriors, appropriately named “The Killers”, and led by the deadly Killer Number 2 (Kevin McKidd).


The number of different influences incorporated into Guy Moshe’s Bunraku is astounding.  A combination of traditional Japanese puppet theatre, spaghetti western and samurai film, Bunraku attempts to integrate these components and give the viewer a unique experience. Highly stylized sets, reminiscent of German expressionism, were designed to allow complete freedom of camera movement and facilitate human movement required for the action sequences.  Accenting the set and costume design is highly saturated lighting, which creates a world of rich and vibrant colours.  Bunraku’s action sequences are often one part punches and kicks and one part dance, resulting in what looks like a waltz with martial arts and swordplay mixed in.


Bunraku is incredibly ambitious in its attempts to fuse so many different styles and motifs.  The problem is it just didn’t work.  Instead of seamless integration of the various influences Bunraku offers a mash up of disjointed stylistic elements. The dialogue is particularly bad as it is heavy handed and campy.  Characters are constantly spitting out what are meant to be profound pearls of wisdom that end up coming across as cheap and forced.  The protagonists are boring and at no time do anything that encourages you to identify with them or care about them.  And perhaps worst of all are the fight sequences.  How you manage to make martial arts and sword fighting completely bland and boring is beyond me, but Bunraku manages to do just that.  Given the fact that Bunraku was hyped up as an amazing action film, its failure in this respect is made even more disappointing.

By Shaun Laffan

Bunraku tries desperately to be cool and hip, and perhaps herein lies the problem.  Too much time appears to have been spent on incorporating different stylistic elements and influences and not nearly enough time was spent on figuring out whether they would all work together.  Some people will love this film.  They will find the dialogue witty and interesting and the dance-like fight sequences will appeal to them.  But for the vast majority of filmgoers Bunraku will be terribly boring and disappointing.

In my humble opinion, don’t waste your money or your time on Bunraku.


Moira Romano

Josh Hartnett Interview


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