Sukiyaki Western Django (2007)

I honestly didn’t plan on this being a mini-event week. I started with 1966’s Django, then found out about 2017’s biography Django about musician Django Reinhardt, who the western gunslinger is named after. Then I went down a rabbit hole of all the unofficial sequels that had “Django” in the title and noticed Sukiyaki Western Django, an English language Japanese western by… Mr. Takashi Miike? The same Mr. Takashi Miike responsible for Ichi the Killer, Audition, Visitor Q, and The Happiness of the Katakuris? Well shit, I guess I have to watch it! And so here we are. No more “Django” movies next week, I promise.

If you’ve seen Django and/or Yojimbo, the basic plot is going to be familiar. An unnamed gunslinger enters a town caught in the middle of a gang war between the Genji (in white) and the Heike (in red). Both sides want his skills, but he says aloof and plays both sides against each other. There’s a legendary lady marksman, a tragedy of rival lovers, direct references to Henry VI, and more ridiculous action sequences than you would think. A lot of weird stuff happens, so summarizing it is a little difficult. But it’s free on YouTube and a bunch of streaming services, so maybe check it out yourself.

Oh, and it also has a Japanese rock cover of the Django Main Theme. You’re welcome.

I honestly went back and forth on whether to tag this “parody.” What sealed the deal was when Quentin Tarantino’s character–oh, right, he’s the only white actor in the film–is revealed to be the former lover of the legendary Bloody Benten, and that his son’s name was Akira. “How the lovely sound of that name brings me back,” the decrepit old man says. “What can I say? At the end, I am an anime otaku at heart.” The man he’s talking to lives in a western and has absolutely no idea what the hell he’s talking about. That’s what sealed the deal and confirmed to me that yeah, “parody” absolutely fits.

As for the connection to Django, the movie sort of sets itself up as a prequel? The ill-fated lovers had a kid and at the end of the film–minor spoilers in this paragraph–we’re told that a few years later, he’d rename himself Django and head to Italy. But there’s more than that odd choice. The big nod is the weapon that the two sides are fighting for: a Gatling gun stored in a coffin. Well that’s familiar! A little more subtle is when a character is killed by having a cross pierce his back, as it reads “Mercedes Zaro.” Though she wasn’t present in Django, that was the name of the Django’s dead love that inspired him to seek elaborate revenge. So all of this week’s movie posts tie together! A cute little themed week that just happed to line up.

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