Friday, July 16, 2010

Sukiyaki Western Django

Sukiyaki Western Django is another example of taking an existing story or plot and reinventing it for a new audience. In this case, the film has homages to Shakespeare's old War of the Roses, the western Django, and most obviously in its man with no name theme, Yojimbo, which itself has a more direct homage in Last Man Standing.

For those who've never seen Yojimbo or Last Man Standing, the premesis is that a stranger comes to town with a skill set in high demand. The stranger tries to play off both sides until things blow up in his face and the big battle occurs.

Sometimes that happens very quickly, such as in this movie. Others, like in the original Yojimbo take time to expose the double delaing that the stranger is doing.

In a role playing game, if one powerful character could tip the balance of power between different factions, imagine how a gorup of them could do so? In some instances, the players might become their own faction, forcing the other two to gang up against the players.  In other instances, the players may try to steer clear of all offers of alliance by either side only to wind up being attacked by each side in turn as they cannot have such a powerful force in the town.

A set up of this nature tends to work best in smaller locals. Its hard to picture a city like Waterdeep being under two gangs thumbs as opposed to a small town in the dales or in the far north.

Outside of its retelling of a classic stories roots though, the movie has several other things going for it.

Style. While this can be something difficult for players to appreciate through a verbal medium as the Dungeon Master must explain everything as, it can help to set the stage. Many if not all of the character here, have very distinct and visual apperances despite the 'gang colors' that each faction wears.

Individuality: Many of the characters, in addition to their unique apperance, also have many quirks. The leader of the 'white' gang is like a titan among mortals weeping that he has no worlds left to overcome. His skill is so great, that in the end, the duel between the man with no name and the leader of the white garbed clan isn't gun against gun, but rather, gun against sword in a battle similiar to the ending of Cowboy Bebop. The leader of the red gang on the other hand, comes across as slightly crazy and opportunistic using dirty tricks left and right to try and win the war.

Hidden Characters: In some ways, the fact that one of the characters here is an old gun fighter isn't that big of a surprise. The specific character is referenced and there is some flash back. In a small group, this adding of legends and then introducing the player as someone already there under a different life, should work well. In some cases, the other players may be there to pick up the player and take them out of retirement for one big adventure.

If you're looking for a highly stylistic movie that pays homage to several genres with a great visual mash up between Western and Samurai sensibilities, Sukiyaki Western Django is the way to go.