First Images from BUNRAKU Starring Josh Hartnett, Woody Harrelson, Demi Moore, Kevin McKidd and Ron Perlman

     August 17, 2010

What I love about this time of year are all the movies getting ready to unspool for the first time.  Over the next few weeks, the Toronto Film Festival, Telluride, the Venice Film Festival, and even Fantastic Fest will premiere tons of movies – with many of them under the radar (for now). That’s because every year plays out the same way…as a few movies will come out of nowhere to win some of the biggest Awards at each of the Festivals and then they’ll get released around the world.  That’s why everyone gets so excited for this time of year, because over the next few weeks, the world’s leading film critics will get to see almost all the big releases for the rest of the year and everyone wants to be the first one predicting what will win an Oscar and what film was a huge disappointment.

So why this long winded intro?  Because one of the many films off my radar was writer/director Guy Moshe’s Bunraku. While I knew the film from the times I’d seen the title listed on Woody Harrelson, Demi Moore, Josh Hartnett, Kevin McKidd and Ron Perlman’s IMDb profiles, I didn’t know anything about it.  However, we just got the first images from the film and the synopsis and now I’m very curious.  Hit the jump for more:

According to the synopsis via TIFF:

In a world with no guns, a mysterious drifter (Josh Hartnett), a young samurai and a bartender (Woody Harrelson) plot revenge against a ruthless leader (Ron Perlman) and his army of thugs, headed by nine diverse and deadly assassins. This visually stunning film is filled with uniquely choreographed action sequences of a new style that melds east with west and old school with new. The film also stars Demi Moore.

After reading the synopsis and looking at the very stylized images, I think this is going to be one of those films that’s either going to be awesome….or a complete mess. However, I’m really hoping this is one of those films that surprises everyone with how cool it is.  Anyway, here are the first images from the movie in high resolution and further down is a much more detailed description from the TIFF website.

click on any image for high-res

  • Country: USA
  • Year: 2010
  • Language: English
  • Screenplay: Guy Moshe
  • Director: Guy Moshe
  • Producer: Keith Calder, Jessica Wu, Nava Levin, Ram Bergman
  • Executive Producer: David Matalon
  • Cinematographer: Juan Ruiz-Anchia
  • Editor: Zach Staenberg, Glenn Garland
  • Sound: Scott Hecker
  • Production Designer: Chris Farmer
  • Runtime: 118

In a hyperreal, hyper-saturated, hyper-driven dystopia, guns are banned upon pain of death and the sword is now king.

Nicola the Woodcutter (Ron Perlman) is the most powerful man east of the Atlantic, a shadowy crime boss who rules with an iron fist with the help of nine diverse assassins and the Red Gang, a force not to be trifled with. His right-hand man is Killer #2 (Kevin McKidd), a cold-hearted, smooth-talking, toe-tapping murderer dressed in red and wielding a deadly blade without remorse. The citizens live in fear of this pack of wolves, and wait for the hero who can overthrow the tyrant.

One night, a man (Josh Hartnett) walks into the bar of the local insurgent (Woody Harrelson) and desires two things: a shot of whisky and to kill Nicola. Soon, another stranger enters the bar, a samurai named Yoshi (played by Japanese pop star GACKT). Yoshi wants to avenge his father by taking back a talisman that Nicola stole from his clan. Armed with crossed destinies and incredible fighting skills, the two set out on a journey, breaking bones and cracking heads in search for Nicola.

In an amalgam of samurai film, spaghetti western and chop socky – and using a stylish blend of neo-noir, German expressionism and Russian futurism – director Guy Moshe’s debut feature Bunraku is nothing short of ambitious. Characters in the world of Bunraku spin and ricochet against a backdrop that resembles a pop-up-book made of origami, ever-changing and whirring like a steam driven Victorian theatre set. It is a universe driven by pugilistic force, delivered in a brash style of amazing physical combat sequences by stunt coordinator Clayton Barber and fight choreographer Larnell Stovall that evoke Gene Kelly by way of Bloodsport. Hartnett will surprise many with his presence as the man with no name, played with a steely perfection and ripped straight out of a Western, while GACKT channels Toshiro Mifune’s stone cold devotion to a mission.

Completely unique while drawing upon a myriad of classical influences, Bunraku emerges as a visually stunning and adrenaline pumping blend of flavours old and new, east and west.

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