I love them, as I’ve already discussed in a few entries on my blog. There’s nothing like a Man With No Name cleaning up a town through a judicious usage of fists and bullets–especially when the bad guys are rapists or murderers. It’s awesome.
I’ve also already discussed my disappointment with the current spate of mopey, angsty Westerns that the US has produced: Movies like 3:10 to Yuma, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and No Country for Old Men are all great movies, but the genre seems to be dominated by miserable people. Even the Australians got in on the mope-fest with The Proposition, which was another great movie but which was a little too rapey for me to really enjoy. I’m looking forward to the upcoming Cowboys vs. Aliens movie, but it’s also possible that won’t be intended as a Western at all and won’t explore Western tropes much. Also, Daniel Craig has monkey ears.
Apparently, in the middle of the 20th century, Eastern Europe began making Westerns called Osterns, which usually depicted Native Americans in a more compassionate light as freedom fighters, compared to their role in American Westerns as villains. I haven’t seen any of these, but I’m really curious to.
And now, breathing new life into the genre come a group I am going to call East Meets Westerns. Made by or starring Asians, the genre only has a few entries at the moment: The Good, the Bad, and The Weird; Sukiyaki Western Django; and The Warrior’s Way, which only came out this weekend in theaters.
I think of them as East Meets Westerns because I like how that sounds; the filmes of Sergio Leone were known as Spaghetti Westerns because they were made with cheap Italian labor in Italy, and that name has always bothered me a little. Of course the Italians call them something else, but it doesn’t seem like these new Westerns yet have a name. It could be because they aren’t intended to be their own genre–after all, it’s not like every movie that gets made in Asia has to be branded as part of a genre. But for the sake of searchability for enthusiasts, say on Netflix or through Amazon, they really should have their own name. God forbid someone searching for a good, fun Western gets suggestions for Westerns where everyone is miserable and dies at the end, when there are fun movies like this getting overlooked because of a semantics issue.
Anyhow, I’ll be reviewing Good, Bad and Weird and Warrior’s Way today, so that’s what we’re working on.