Saturday, February 21, 2015

Unforgiven (2013)

Directed by Sang-il Lee. With Ken Watanabe, Jun Kunimura, Shiori Kutsuna, Yûya Yagira. Just as Clint Eastwood's star-making spaghetti Western A Fistful of Dollars was inspired by Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo, Japanese-Korean filmmaker Sang-il Lee (Villain) has 

I saw the Eastwood UNFORGIVEN when I was young so I didn't fully grasp any of the revisionist Western nuances about it but have come to appreciate them over time (even though I have yet to rewatch it). This Japanese remake followed the Eastwood version fairly closely but leaned heavily towards sentimentality (as unfortunately most mainstream Japanese films do these days), and this was the film's downfall in the final act where there's a lot of slow motion accentuated by somber music - the original film's ending was unapologetic and blunt, raw and practically real-time. I didn't mind the sentimentality in the beginning acts (incorporating oppression of the Hokkaido Ainu natives was great) but that same approach through to the end just pushed it into melodrama and just felt disingenuous. And what's really missing was Gene Hackman's performance as a colossal prick sheriff - his Japanese counter part just went through the motions of being a villain but had no gravitas. If anything this films should've used a different title to avoid direct comparisons to the original because it looked great and did a few interesting things on its own. #facebook

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