Bunraku Movie Review

A drifter.

A  samurai.

And a whole list of baddies to slaughter.

Bunraku is Kill Bill meets Afro Samurai with a dash of a western.  It is a visually spectacular film, and it has some original elements and martial arts sequences.  This film is an underrated and misunderstood diamond in the rough.


Mike Patton is the Narrator of this film.  The Drifter is played by Josh Hartnett.  Gackt plays Yoshi, the Samurai.  Shun Sugata stars as Yoshi’s Uncle.  Momoko, Yoshi’s cousin, is played by Emily Kaiho. The Bartender is played by Woody Harrelson. Demi Moore stars as Alexandra, courtesan and Nicola’s lover.

Now to the cast of villains…Nicola the Woodcutter, the crime boss of the East coast, is played by Ron Perlman.  With his clothing and hat, he looks almost like Justice from Afro Samurai.  Killer No. 2, Nicola’s lieutenant, is played by Kevin McKidd. Killer No. 3, the Mirror Drifter, is played by Shahar Sorek.  Fernando Chien plays Killer No. 4, or Mirror Samurai.  Killer No. 5 is played Yoshio Likuza.  Killer No. 6 is played by Kofi Yiadom.  Killer No. 7 is played by Aaron Toney.  Razvan Gheorghiu stars as Killer No. 8. Holland Diaz stars as Killer No. 9.  Lastly, Killer No. 10 is played by Florian Ciprian.


In a violent world, a Drifter, a Samurai and a Bartender team together to face a common threat, Nicola the Woodcutter, to save a city and the world from his tyranny.  Through their use of their swordplay, fists and card skills, they finally overcome the odds.


Bunraku is a 400-year old form of Japanese puppet theater, and this film features essentially human puppets.  The style of the film resembles a graphic novel, and the music is very eclectic to say the least.  With that in mind, the story, although a bit derivative, alongside the acting of Ron Perlman, Kevin McKidd, Gackt, Josh Hartnett and Woody Harrelson carry this pulpy film very well.  This movie won’t win any awards, but there are some original elements in the film.  The telephone conversations where each person is facing each other behind a silk screen is very different.  Although it is used on stage plays, it is rarely used in films.  Additionally, a few of the fight scenes are unique.  For example, the fight on the trampoline and the Mirror Samurai and Drifter fights were enjoyable to watch.

Verdict (Out of 10)

Bunraku gets a 9.3 out of 10 for me.  Its originality and style marks this movie as one of the tops for me.  This movie caters easily to the Kill Bill crowd, but it won’t satisfy the mainstream.  All that being said, this film may reach cult status in the future.