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Django Unchained: DVD Review

Rating: M
Released by Sony Home Ent

Set in America in 1858 and Jamie Foxx plays Django, a slave who's been separated from his wife Broomhilda (Washington) and part of a chain gang. He's sought out by former dentist turned bounty hunter Dr Schultz (a stunningly great turn from Christoph Waltz). Schultz seeks out Django as he knows what three of his quarry look like - and the pair form an alliance, working through the winter and capturing bad guys, dead or alive (mostly dead though in bloody Tarantino fashion).

But Django's got one thing on his mind - the return of his wife. And making a deal with Schultz, the pair set off for slave laden estate Candie land owned by Leonardo di Caprio's Monsieur Calvin Candie (who has a side line in mandingo fights) and run by Stephen (a cowed Samuel L Jackson) to free her once and for all.

What do you say about Django Unchained?

Violent, pulpy, bloody, funny and trademark Tarantino, it's a revenge flick through and through. Filled with, of course, historical liberties, it's a stylish film which has Quentin's pawprints all over it - from the fantastic soundtrack to patented patter and violence and zoom shots. (Plus an old Columbia logo at the start of the film sets the reverential tone for the westerns and cinema from days of yore.)

And yet, it's anchored by a tremendous turn by Christoph Waltz, who commands the screen from the moment he arrives on it, drawn by a horse and cart with a giant wobbling tooth attached by a spring on its roof. Through a calm and intelligent exterior, Waltz is a towering presence over the film and in some ways, overshadows everyone who appears - with the exception of Leonardo di Caprio, whose flouncy cotton plantation owner Calvin Candie is all flourish and charm, until his anger is aroused at which point the tension has you on the edge of your seat before it all explodes in violence. It's no wonder these two have been granted Golden Globe nominations - they're rarely matched on this celluloid outing.

Django Unchained also suffers a little from a long winding narrative, with some extra excursions (including Tarantino's bizarre appearance and attempt at an Aussie accent) seeming better suited to the cutting room floor than in this 2 hour 45 minute epic, occasionally over-indulgent and sprawling vengeance flick. A little more expeditious editing could have turned this occasionally sprawling N-word littered Western into a tighter piece without losing the character touches and humorous moments which stand out. (One riotous sequence sees a posse of sack wearing vigilantes railing about how they can't see through their eye slots)

Pulpy, trashy and true Tarantino, Django Unchained is a stunning and audacious piece of film-making which has artistic and stylish flourishes aplenty and offers up cinema lovers the typical Tarantino cocktail of furious film-making, guaranteed to nourish and at the same time, confront with its brutal -and brilliant -touches.

Rating: 8/10