Do you Bunraku?

Bunraku (2010) Director: Guy Moshe.  Starring: Josh Hartnett, Woody Harrelson, Ron Perlman, Demi Moore.  Rating: R for bloody violence and a few F bombs.


Isn’t Bunraku the Danish board game from the seventies that challenges your memory and is fun for the whole family?

No. That’s Husker Du.

Isn’t Bunraku those bite sized kangaroo shaped cookies by Betty Crocker that came packaged with flavored dipping sauces?

No, those were Dunk-a-roos.

I know! Isn’t Bunraku a bizarre kung-fu action/fantasy movie that barely made it to theaters last year?

You are correct person I’m pretending to have a conversation with for the sake of this bit!

Bunraku is set in a weird parallel universe where guns don’t exist, it’s always night, and everyone lives on a soundstage. Mysterious crime boss Nicola (Ron Perlman, the hardest working man in B movies) rules most of Asia with an iron fist and a really big axe.  Nicola’s red suited henchmen terrorize the citizens of whatever city Bunraku is set in – I think its Tokyo or Shanghai but without all the Asians.

Into town rolls a stranger named Drifter played by Josh Hartnett who God bless him is still trying to make a go of this acting thing. Drifter, whose fists are as mighty as his mustache is thin, wants to kill Nicola and is willing to pummel anyone who gets in his way. Arriving in town at almost the same time is a long haired samurai named Yoshi (played by Japanese pop singer Gackt, who looks like a more effeminate David Bowie, if that’s possible) who wants to avenge his father’s death at the hands of Nicola.  After a rough start involving a few fights and both of them muttering their lines like the dialogue was a secret, Drifter and Yoshi decide to join forces to beat everyone up together.

With the help of The Bartender  (played by Woody Harrelson who played a bartender on that NBC sitcom your parents used to watch… no, not Friends, how old are you?) they pick away at Nicola’s army of kung fu fighters in a series of highly choreographed fight scenes until they face off against Nicola himself.  We also learn that like Yoshi, Drifter wants to avenge his father’s death at the hands of Nicola . Apparently Nicola has killed a lot of Dads.

The problem with Bunraku (aside from the fact that for an action movie it moves along at the same pace as a college lecture on the history of wool) is that the film is like a tasty ice cream sundae that went overboard on the toppings.

It’s got the greenscreened backgrounds like Sin City and The Spirit mixed with the comic book color scheme of Dick Tracy slathered with the trippy pseudo reality of Speed Racer, topped off with the campiness of the Batman TV series and sprinkled with video game themes and spaghetti western cliches.

If you have too many toppings on your sundae, you’re just being wasteful and gluttonous and you’ll wind up getting very sick in the back of the station wagon and puking all over your brother’s book bag.

That didn’t happen to me. It was another movie reviewer friend of mine.

In conclusion, Banraku was a noble effort, but overall it’s big on the toppings and kind of boring and vanilla on the inside.

That’s not to say vanilla is bad. I like vanilla. With a little hot fudge and whipped cream. Mmmm, tasty. I wonder if the Coldstone up the street is open yet…


About Tom Levier

Tom is a New Jersey native who lived in New York City for a while, and is now back in the Garden State. He is creator and writer of Central Park: A Misguide, DVD Critics Corner!, and The Gallows. Please read, comment on, and subscribe to his blogs. It would make him very happy. When not writing, Tom enjoys making jewelry and other handmade items for his shop Cold Garage Creations. Check out his shop on Etsy!

Posted on January 12, 2012, in Action Movies, DVD, Humor, Movies, Reviews and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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