Mortal Kombat meets The Warriors meets Clockwork Orange meets Kung Fu Hustle in this East meets West film.
It's the future in "Little Westworld" (an ode to the amazing 1973 film) which is actually an "East-Meets-West-World", stylistically speaking. To prevent utter destruction by Men, guns have been outlawed and society has reverted to the sword....and, well... axes, hatchets, brass knuckles and extremely acrobatic Kung Fu. There is no longer any government, Gangs rule an Ultraviolent Warrior Society where you must KILL your way to the top. Little Westworld is controlled by Nicola the Woodcutter (Pearlman) and his Gang of Killers (of which there is a hierarchy of 10, himself being Killer #1). They keep order by having their henchman- the Red Suits (led by Killer #2, played amazingly by Kevin McKidd)- violently extort the general public, ruling by Fear.
Enter our two lone wolf characters. The Man With No Name (Hartnett) and Yoshi, the Jin Samurai (Gackt- who received more applause than all the other A-list actors at the TIFF Premiere). The Man is a vicious fighter known for having the quickest hands in the west; whose strength and rage is exposed when he sniffs an unlit cigarette. He has no goals or direction, he's just a drifter who wandered into town looking for a game of cards (gambling is banned by the way)- a lone man in a land of ultraviolent gangs. Yoshi is a young Samurai from the East who has been sent on "The Quest" by his father. His mission is to find and retrieve a Dragon Amulet that represents great power for his family...and while he's at it...to become a man.
Seeking information, both men end up in a small bar (with a sort of western/clockwork orange theme), of which is tended by Woody Harrelson- The Bartender, who has a knack for making Pop-Up books. After each individually beats down the biker gang that frequents the bar, their paths cross and the two lone wolves turn eyes toward each other. To get their issues with each other out of the way, The Bartender agrees to moderate an epic atmospheric battle where the two warriors stylistically beat the sh*t out of each other. (fight scene was a bit drawn out for my taste)
The plot develops as The Man is able to gain access to Nicola's weekly poker game. Nicola plays in costume via video link, and despite being cheated, The Man is able to knock out all the other players and obtain a significant chip advantage. Angered, Nicola demands to end the game face to face...if The Man can continue to "beat the odds", that is... Subsequently, Yoshi's Uncle- who runs a sushi restaurant- is being harassed by the Red Suits, and Yoshi's intervention puts him at odds with Killer #2. Things happen, battles ensue, people die, and our two lone wolves realize that they have a common enemy and, thus, could benefit from each others' friendship.
During the poker game, The Man realizes that Nicola has the Amulet that Yoshi seeks. The Man, on the other hand, simply wishes to end the game he started earlier. Throw The Bartender into the mix- as Nicola ended his Warrior career and be-whored the love of his life, Alexandra (Demi Moore)- along with the soldiers of the Proletariat Peasant Uprising- who seek to overthrow Nicola's violent and oppressive rule (their leader looks like Castro!)- and you have a force that is able to take on even the Killers and their army of Red Suits.
As the Peasants battle the Red Suits, our two warriors must slay their way up the hierarchy in order to reach their ultimate matches, vs Killer #2 and Nicola himself. Will good triumph over evil in this epic tale from the future? You'll have to watch it to find out, and trust me...you won't be disappointed.
This is one of the most visually stunning and original films I've ever seen. The opening animation (which gives us the back-story) uses CGI that emulates paper cut-out stop motion in combination with Japanese style Bunraku origami puppeteers, and sets the stage for the aesthetic atmosphere that will absorb the rest of the film. The background scenery has an origami look and feel to it and, as the camera pans over "Little Westworld", the scenery "unfolds" as if it were popping up from pages opening in a pop-up book. Moshe cleverly plays with this idea with The Bartender character. This has an absolutely amazing effect- I've never seen anything like it. It is definitely the atmosphere which makes this film so artistically incredible and visually consuming.
Original, Engrossing Atmosphere, Mind Blowing Action, Wonderful Casting and Acting...all in all this is a pretty awesome film that CANNOT BE MISSED. A Cult Classic waiting to happen. 9 out 10.