Bunraku - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Bunraku Reviews

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Super Reviewer
May 23, 2012
Films like this really need to manage their style and substance. Josh Hartnett plays a lone stranger in a world where guns have become outlawed. He is joined by lone swordsman, and the two form a friendship with a bartender. They each have their own gripes with the mysterious leader of the town, who is protected by a group of assassins. Bunraku starts off really cool, and the visuals continue to impress throughout. It takes on forms of puppetry at times, and also uses the aesthetics of a pop-up book for its transitions. The wonderfully constructed sets hide the limited budget and the action scenes are competently choreographed. All this said though, it is certainly reminiscent of every western ever made. By paying too much homage, the twists and turns become apparent early on. An exciting and fun film, but when something looks this good, you wish it try a little harder.
Super Reviewer
January 18, 2012
What a very strange movie. It looks like it was shot on the same soundstage (and with the same crew) as Repo! The Genetic Opera, with its lush and surreal colour scheme and odd use of animation in the narrative. In this world, there are no backgrounds, only trompe d'oeil paintings, and people often hang chandeliers outdoors while cultivating rock gardens in their homes. I get the feeling that more interesting things could have been done in a movie world where the mob is in full force but guns don't exist. I think one of the biggest troubles of this movie is the fact that all the characters are so terribly, otherworldly cool that the writers and actors forgot to make them real. I couldn't connect with anyone. Everyone was as invincible, or sullen, or artificially flawed as the heroes of Livejournal poetry. They are simply instruments upon which to hang all the novel ideas of this film, but I really didn't care about what happened to anyone. Actually, I'd like to see another story, written by someone else that takes place in this diegetic world. Hmm. Off to read fanfic!
Super Reviewer
January 5, 2012
Style to spare but nothing else to offer. Unoriginal, thin, overlong, and often silly.
Super Reviewer
January 5, 2012
Guy Moshe's Bunraku goes heavy on the visuals, but is that enough?The pacing of the story is consistently moderate; however, it is the film's style and storytelling that really drags this 2 hour picture down. Very film noir in nature, the constant narration and background music becomes tiresome. Combining that with the visual look, which is a mix between a comic book and the Bunraku Japanese puppet theater style where this film gets its title from, turns things into a monotonous piece of work.The action contains some promise with the choreography and the bloody violence, for the most part, is held in check; although there is enough to warrant an R rating.Similarly with the film's tone, the performances by the likes of Josh Hartnett, Woody Harrelson, Gackt, and Ron Perlman are all colorless and dry. Kevin McKidd tends to standout from the rest with some spark in his character.Bunraku does have its artistic elements, but in the end things turn out less entertaining than expected.
Super Reviewer
February 16, 2014
This film does deliver. It has a unique look to it. It is like they were trying to do a visual style similar to Sin City and The Big Bang. The story reminded me of movies like The Man with the Iron Fists, Escape From N.Y., and Tron Legacy. The film feels like a comic book or graphic novel. Some of the fight scenes reminded me of the fight scenes from the 1966 Adam West Batman TV show. All that was missing was the "Bam!" and "Pow!"

It was great seeing Hartnett on screen again. It's been awhile since I last saw him in a movie. He kind of reminded me of the Clint Eastwood Man with no name character or Snake Plisskin. He has a good chemistry with Woody and Gackt. Woody is good here and brings humor when needed. Ron Perlman is great as usual. He kind of reminded me of Mickey Rourke's character in The Immortals.

I definitely liked this film and recommend it.
Super Reviewer
April 5, 2012
The only reason I gave "Bunraku" a pretty average score instead of something a little lower was that it was entertaining enough and of course had some great actors in it, Gackt as a Samurai too! The film tries to go for a visually unique look and even though I understand what it's going for, it comes off just cheap more than an intentional stylistic choice. The film doesn't take itself too seriously and Woody Harrelson and his ride help balance the more serious tone of the film but there are moments that the serious tone is just cheesy. I can see now why some of these elements hindered the film's chance at big box office success and a timely release. In the end though, if you are looking for an action film with very little in the way of plot or story but focuses primarily on visual style it's still a fun little flick.
Super Reviewer
½ August 20, 2011
Along the lines of "Sin City" and "Watchmen", "Bunraku" creates an artistic and graphically induced world while steering clear of the laughable and pretentious world of a film like "The Warrior's Way". The characters are interesting with the actors fitting their parts surprisingly well. The visuals are up to par with high budget films, with many of the stories being told through paper cutouts. The fight scenes grow slightly extended, but with the "Kill Bill"-like set up to the villains, the viewer is constantly engaged in the story.
Super Reviewer
August 25, 2010
The Michael Bay of writers, except substitute explosions for fights. Ugh This movie was mind-blowingly stupid. I'm am amazed that his film even got made.
Super Reviewer
½ September 13, 2011
The word is style. This movie is western, Asian, video game, comedy, drama, action, and play. If anything, this movie should win the award for Best Set Design. I absolutely loved the fact that the background was made out of paper with gorgeous soft lighting behind it. Ron Perlman was cool as always and I love that Demi Moore played his woman and not some faceless actress half his age. Kevin McKidd was awesome as the slick-suited Killer #2, Woody Harrelson was probably playing himself for all I know, but he was fun as always, and Josh Hartnett and Gackt made for entertaining but flawed heroes (flawed in a good way, made them more human). Bunraku is the story of a gunless cowboy (Hartnett) and a swordless samurai (Gackt) both out seeking revenge on the crime boss of a small town named Niccola (Perlman). Again, Perlman was just too smooth. This film could've been more exciting, which is my only critique. Interesting premise that just came off as tame in the long run. But the cinematography. So excellent.
Super Reviewer
November 8, 2011
Interesting idea... cool visuals... weak execution. Too bad, cause it has a really cool cast and a lot of style.
Super Reviewer
September 14, 2011
It has stars BUT the execution is bad, the narrator voice is annoying, the fight scenes are too long that turn boring, well... the complete movie has dragged pacing, and the artistic look fail.
The movie running time is 118 minutes and I just watched an 50 minutes or so of boredom because I couldn't stand to watch a minute more.\

Boring+poor executed+uninteresting="Bunraku"
January 18, 2014
This is a fun movie. It is all about style and colorful characters performing in a very stylized manner in a very colorful fantasy setting. The story assembles a collection of classic tropes from western and martial arts films. The production design and visual effects are quite surreal and quite beautiful. The acting is very good with direction that is more choreography than direction. A very enjoyable and very offbeat movie.
½ December 31, 2013
Very weird but also very interesting. I love how this film is shot, and the artistic detail in the background and sets is simply amazing; I've never seen anything like it. Again, weird film, but I like how it mixes genres, and I definitely like how it tells its story. After seeing the film once, you feel that the story couldn't be told any differently. Props for casting Kevin McKidd btw...the voice actor for Soap MacTavish in Call of Duty. Anyway, I wouldn't mind a sequel to this film.
August 28, 2012
Stellar cast and crew, awesome action and some what stylish look and appeal...But nothing else. The whole thing came off as a few steps above cartoonish with a slice of violent gore. I didn't pay to see it so no monetary loss there, but I can't get that hour and 58 minutes of my life back...Damn!!!
½ April 2, 2012
A thoroughly unsatisfying movie, some of it could be forgiven if the overall style wasn't so wonky. After the first minute of this movie, you realize, okay style over substance. Which in most cases, yeah that's perfectly fine if done well and some of it IS done very well, but other parts are really poorly done and you kind of feel like you're watching a high budget theater production and not an actual movie. Thankfully, the two protagonists and Woody Harrelson are GREAT and definitely carry the movie. Yes, they put the team on their back. Ron Perlman and Demi Moore are really mediocre per usual and all the extras are downright bad. But as I said, thankfully you like and enjoy the main characters and the action is pretty decent when it happens, the last 25 minutes of the movie are pretty spectacular and provide some entertaining thrills, but this movie is definitely wasted potential.

PROS: Woody Harrelson, Josh Hartnett, Gackt, the last 30 minutes, unique look
CONS: Ron Perlman, Demi Moore, mediocre production value, cliche story
January 27, 2012
The plot could have been tightened up and not so long, but on the whole I had fun watching it. I wasn't expecting much and I just enjoyed the visuals and stayed open to the story. The acting wasn't going to win any oscars, but they weren't bad, and entertained. And for Gackt's English language film debut, I thought he was pretty darned good.
December 2, 2011
To be fair, the story and characters are about as thin as paper (which is actually very fitting, considering the fact that the backgrounds look like they're made out of folded paper). But thankfully, the movie also never stops being entertaining. The fight scenes are pretty cool, and the surreal puppet theater-style visuals are some of the most creative I've ever seen in an action film. In fact, this whole movie is like a good fantasy drawing: flat, but also really colorful, creative and fun.
½ January 10, 2012
What do you get when you cross Dick Tracy with Sin City, throw in a bit of The Spirit and top it off with Streets Of Fire?
A huge headache. And the mess that is Bunraku.
½ December 14, 2011
It's like a failed art project. Bunraku is a odd-compilation of cowboy/western, samurai sword and arthouse noir ... and not all of it works. I enjoyed the stylish telling of the story (paper cutouts were original and unique); but I'm one who wants a little more substance along with the style. If one doesn't mind 75% style -- this film will be fine for you. I just wanted a little bit more as much of this feels somewhat recycled (ah ... recycled paper ... that's it!) from greater films. Josh Hartnett (The Black Dahlia, Pearl Harbor, Wicker Park) plays the cowboy-esque Drifter who comes into town to seek revenge (of some sort) on the villainout crimelord known as The Woodcutter (Ron Perlman - Hell Boy, City of Lost Children, Drive). Also arriving for similar reasons is a samurai warrior played by Japanese musician, Gackt (whom I thought was a female the first time I saw him; but ...). The catch (as the story tells its audience at the very beginning of the film) is that this is now a world without guns or swords as humanity has proven to be too destructive with such weapons and so this becomes a movie about a cowboy without a gun and a samurai warrior without a sword (for much of the film, anyway). Parts of Bunraku work ... and others fall flat (trapeze killers ... uh, I don't think so). It is "neat" to look at (think early 90's movie Dick Tracy sets) and it has style to spare. That is the film's problem -- it has too much of it. I still found this to be entertaining and interesting and I was curious to watch its finale/conclusion so that is some mediocre praise at least. It isn't bad ... I just with it had a better balance.
September 8, 2011
It is what it is, and I'm sad to say I thought it would be better. I should have just figured that out from the get-go.
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