In a world without guns, a mysterious drifter (Josh Hartnett) arrives in a strange town terrorised by the ruthless Woodcutter (Ron Perlman) and his army of thugs, headed by the vicious Killer No.2 (Kevin McKidd). The drifter is forced to trust a young samurai (Gackt) looking to restore his family's honour, and the local bartender (Woody Harrelson) with his own secret score to settle, as they team up to destroy the Woodcutter's tyrannical and corrupt regime.
Bunraku is a mixed up, multi genre movie starring Josh Hartnett, Woody Harrelson, Demi Moore and Ron Perlman. It tells the story of lonely gunslinger, known only as the Drifter and played rather conspicuously by Josh Hartnett with a dodgy mustache; who is in search of Perlman’s the Woodcutter, an evil warlord who rules in this futuristic world where guns have been utterly outlawed.
Despite sounding like a predictable spaghetti Western the movie has a great deal of the Japanese Samurai story about it. Alongside Hartnett’s gunslinger is a swordless Samurai who too is searching for the Woodcutter, whilst in other ways the movie has been strongly influenced by the genre; particularly in regards to its namesake – a traditional form of Japanese puppetry.
The movie starts with an excellent animated prologue, which, if only it had been sustained throughout, would see this movie as a cult hit. However almost immediately after Hartnett enters Harrelson’s saloon the movie takes a downward turn; not into the dreadful but simply the mediocre.
Ultimately it’s a difficult movie that reportedly took three years to garner a solid release date and cost the studio $25 million, that doesn’t really know where it stands. Despite the visual explosion of the piece it falls flat on character and narrative which simply make its cross genre pretense predictable and tedious.