Monday, March 18, 2013


Jaime Foxx, Christoph Waltz,
Leonardo diCaprio, Kerry Washington,
Dennis Christopher, Samuel L. Jackson

"Life, Liberty and the
Pursuit of Vengeance"

Cinema 2, Shang Cineplex

A few weeks ago, I was enthralled by how passionate President Abraham Lincoln was in having the 13th Amendment (the abolition of slavery) to the U.S. Constitution passed by all means.  Then here comes Quentin Tarantino's irreverent Western Spaghetti that viscerally exposes the horrors of slavery so you'd silently thank Lincoln for eliminating this abomination.   Alright, granted that it is based on the wickedly absurd yet brilliant mind of Tarantino, it still doesn't shy too far away from the unspeakable abuses that one race suffered during that era.

Set in 1858, the film opens with a German dentist turned bounty hunter named Dr. Schultz (Christoph Waltz) buying the freedom of a slave named Django, (Jaime Foxx) so he can positively identify a trio of brothers on his "Wanted: Dead or Alive" list.    Django (the *D* is silent) reluctantly agrees so Schultz promises to aid him in his quest to find and rescue his wife, Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from her new master, Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio) a viciously sadistic plantation owner.

The first part is a series of chases and shoot outs as the tandem 'capture' one by one the felons on their list. Dialogue is funny and witty mostly courtesy of the eloquent language employed by the loquacious Dr. Schultz.   Part drama and comedy (like the scene with the Ku Klux Klan bickering over their head gears), but mostly violent with racist overtones (the *N* word is mentioned repeatedly) all juxtaposed with loud rap music blaring out loud.

But that is totally tame compared to the second part where the sequence shifts to Candyland, the plantation where Broomhilda is literally held captive.  It takes on a different tone as we are caught in a bizarre realm where black slaves are trained to fight each other with their bare knuckles until death.  A sick form of entertainment for slave owners.  Candyland is also peppered with freaky characters like Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson) the manipulative and eerie head slave of Monsieur Candie.

The violent bloodbath leading to the climax is one of the most graphic and gory scenes I've ever seen on film. My eyes were closed during the entire scene but I could still hear the bone crunching, flesh tearing bullets ripping human bodies apart in the bloody carnage.  Totally horrific but I'd dare say well filmed and nicely orchestrated despite the cringe factor.

At almost 3 hours, the movie was naturally dragging in certain aspects. It may also be too graphic (like the dogs attacking the runway slave + the bloody climax) for sensitive viewers and too talky for the bored ones who prefer fast moving action scenes. 

Yet you can't help but credit Tarantino's creative mind in coming up with a crazy, never seen before western that leaves quite a powerful impact. His dialogue is smart and funny, his scenarios boldly unpredictable.  His assortment of interesting characters (imagine a slave who speaks German named Broomhilda!) have well developed personalities.  His main subject is quite a taboo matter yet he handles it with the right mix of humor, drama and action. Overall, "Django Unchained" is mostly a fun, twisted yet entertaining tale about freedom, vengeance and redemption.

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