Bunraku tells of a future where guns no longer exist after terrible wars nearly destroyed the world, but of course now battles are fought with swords. A lone drifter, a barman and a young samurai find themselves joining forces to take down a tyrant and his band of nine assassins.
What is most arresting about Bunraku is its visual style, east-meets-west, bright contrasting colours and an origami, paper and pop-up book theme runs throughout. It has more than just a comic, manga feel about it, and I was immediately drawn to it.
It is heavy with violent action sequences, reminding me of Kung Fu Hustle a little, and while some of the choreography is simplistic, the Hollywood stars involved do not look out of place doing it. The direction is strong and the settings for various battles are unique to each other; a prison break that reminded me of Old Boy’s corridor fight, and a fist fight on a springy trapeze safety net! Yes, there is a satirical edge throughout the film.
A surprisingly star-studded cast leads this unique experience: Josh Hartnett, Woody Harrelson, Ron Perlman and Demi Moore, and while their roles are very straightforward (Moore has very little screen time) they give more than enough to be convincing. Scottish actor Kevin McKidd as the vicious Killer No.2 was both amusing and impressively dark.
I think my one gripe was the soundtrack, while it was present and (from what I could tell) sounded great, it wasn’t loud or bombastic enough to fit with the bright, contrasting imagery, it didn’t shake me and felt a little underused.
However, this film was a great little gem! It goes up there with other underrated favourites of mine such as Franklyn. Its simplicity might not be for everyone, but its a fascinating action film to watch, constructed with an artistic vision.