Tuesday, December 25, 2012

 

Django Unchained

Django Unchained There is no doubt that celebrated Academy Award-winning writer/director Quentin Tarantino is a brave warrior in making genre-bending films. His works are full of mesmerizing characters and captivating stories, never lack of blood. His latest film "Django Unchained" (USA 2012 | 160 min.) is a Western that is blended in with his signature style, music, humor, and violence. However, this film doesn't live up to the expectation of a Quentin Tarantino film (especially after his masterpiece "Inglourious Basterds"). Yet, it doesn't fail to entertain either as his first Western.

Instead of setting in a sandy desert as in most Westerns, the film's story unfolds mostly in the South before the Civil War. For unexplained reasons, a German dentist, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), gives up his profession (although he still has a big swinging giant tooth on top of his wagon) and becomes a bounty hunter. He is on his way to hunt most-wanted murderers, the Brittle brothers, even he doesn't even know what they look like besides a sketch on a piece of paper. When he learns that a chained slave Django (Jamie Foxx) is able to identify the Brittle brothers, he makes Django an offer—Django gets his freedom if he can help in capturing the Brittle brothers, dead or alive.

It already sounds too good to be true for Django that he can "kill white people and get paid for it." However, that is not enough for him. Django has an even bigger ambition in an era of slavery: he wants to reunite with his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) who is sold as a slave to a plantation, owned by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). Dr. Schultz gleefully agrees and buddy-up with Djando for the mission.

Once they arrive the plantation, they realize that Calvin is not the only one they have to conduct "business" with—Calvin's suspicious and protective house slave Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) poses more challenge to their goal of rescuing Broomhilda.

Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx in DJANGO UNCHAINED

Unlike Quentin Tarantino's previous work, the story line is rather weak in this film. It doesn't help either when the thin story is stretching beyond two hour and half running time. It seems that the film is more interested in providing a stage for Christoph Waltz to recreate a magic that is similar to his performance in "Inglourious Basterds." Otherwise, how come a bounty hunter is a German dentist traveling in the South? Wouldn't it make more sense if the character to be a Chinese martial art master? But then that would have to be played by somebody like Jackie Chen. You get the point. To accommodating this German character, Quentin Tarantino even lets the young slave Broomhilda in the South speak German, perhaps with a southern drawl as well. Fortunately, Christoph Waltz handsomely delivers a charismatic Dr. Schultz, and the all-star casts give superb performance throughout the film as well.

However, being Quentin Tarantino, he knows too well about how to engage the audience, pop up witty lines, and splash the screen with the amount of blood you will only see in Japanese horror movies. When it comes to offering entertainment, he doesn't disappoint. Occasionally, he even throws himself into a scene or two, just for fun.

The bottom line is that it doesn't matter where Django learns how to shoot before he becomes a bounty hunter. What's important is whom he shoots with—the one and only German who unchains him before Abraham Lincoln does.

"Django Unchained" a Weinstein Company release, opens on Tuesday, December 25, 2012 at Bay Area theaters.


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