Whether you’re coming into this having watched the film or have never heard of it before we are all asking ourselves the same question. What in Sam Hill is Sukiyaki Western Django?
Concession Confession: A hard to follow rampage of goofy homage of Italian Westerns fused with Samurai tales from history. Despite little to care for outside of the pure spectacle of it, it is admittedly energetic and amusing.
Logline: There will be blood, as the Genji and Heike gangs face off in the town of Yuta. However, when a prostitute enlists the help of a nameless gunslinger multiple shenanigans ensue.
Sukiyaki Western Django is the inbreed child between the Samurai and Western films. Of course, the two genres have had a history of influencing and inspiring one another but here we have a homage that borders on self-parody. Honestly, this is such a tonally mute movie that I honestly can’t tell what the intent of it is.
SWD honestly feels more like Blazing Saddles or Monty Python. There’s a ton of pizzazz and flair going on throughout the production, but it all feels so artificial it seems impossible to take it in full earnest. From the cherry flavored blood splatter, to improbable trick shots, to cartoonish and simple character motives the whole thing feels like a film and never lets you forget it. SWD has an almost childish demeanor to it and one that builds on the kinetic energy of its amusing antics. Like how everyone in this gang is color coordinated, they honestly look like they’re on a crappy reality tv game show.
It’s odd because the gags are few and far between. At least in what you may expect from the sound of it. I get the sense that the film is just biting up more than it can chew. It seems to set out many goals: enticing action, tongue and cheek references and homages, English dialogue, and multiple storylines. It almost loses itself getting sidetracked in committing to one of these things it would like to do that it just throws it in there until it’s time to scratch something else on the list.
It’s elements rather hastily tossed into a blender, but maybe it is a smoothie? While it is a little fruity for my taste… it’s kind of a fun shut your brain off flick. I like the surprise cameo of Piringo being played by Quentin Tarantino. To an extend it’s not surprising given how many of Tarantino’s films are either directly inspired or reference these cheap and cheesy Westerns. Also, when I covered Spider Baby, I referenced Tarantino’s love for blacksploitation which shows his appreciation for the craft and spirit of filmmaking maybe even more so than the quality of it.
This film is kind of rightly bonkers and one that despite its rightfully mixed reviews, would be one hard to find an adequate substitute for. I wouldn’t exactly say the cinematography or production designs excel but it does occasionally look pretty cool. I don’t know what it is about it’s painted backdrop or fake snow scenes but it does have an uncanny effect that fits the film well….. I think. As a story and on a technical level SWD is unfortunately underwhelming, but I can’t deny that it is fun. I certainly don’t regret watching it… though I would imagine that would be hard to recommend to someone.
This post is sponsored by Jon Spencer Reviews, the absolute mad lad who recommended this film to me. What a crazy recommendation, one that I’m sure he made knowing that I am the only psychopath who would actually take him up on the offer. This was definitely one that feels good to round out the repertoire a bit, as I haven’t seen a lot of foreign Westerns or even a English International film.
Sukiyaki Western Django is available for free on Tubi so consider giving it a watch. I don’t think there’s a need to promote Jon spencer Reviews further if you’re even remotely aware of my activity on Twitter or Discord or have been following for a while than you already know. If you don’t you really need to get to follow us both!
Who’s recommendation is getting reviewed next… I don’t know but see ya next time at the movies!