Bunraku (2010) Film Review


Bunraku is a 400-year-old form of Japanese puppet theatre, and whilst this is a live-action film, it is very much in the style of puppet theatre. The set has a very theatrical style that reminds me of 1920s German expressionistic films like Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari. Meanwhile, the plot is typical of that of Bunraku theatre.

It is set in a world in the aftermath of a massive world war, guns have been outlawed, so battles are waged with the blade. There is a city which is run by the gangs of Nicola the Woodsman (Ron Pearlman), a character who is rarely, if ever, seen. A Drifter (Josh Hartnet) arrives in town and approaches the local bartender (Woody Harrelson) looking to kill Nicola. A second man also arrives in town, a Samuri warrior (Gackt) in search of a medallion that Nicola stole from his family. The three become and unlikely alliance in the fight against Nicola.

Stylistically, this is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen. Plotwise, it’s got a few holes, but the awesome fight sequences make up for it. Definitely worth enjoying, and if it gets a run at the Astor or somewhere on a big screen, check it out.