The “Western” film genre may have originated in the USA, but has been an astoundingly flexible export, embraced and adapted by cultures around the world into thoroughly local art forms. From the mystic parallels between the cowboy and the samurai (as explored by Akira Kurosawa and his reverence for John Ford), to the “curry Westerns” of classic Bollywood and the “Borscht Westerns” of the Soviet steppe, there is something enduring about the horse and rider on the range: the “Western” may yet survive the “West”. Here we look at a selection of far-flung adaptations of the immortal genre.
Sukiyaki Western Django – Takashi Miike (Japan 2007, excerpt)
Referencing both samurai and gunslingers, Takashi Miike’s supremely weird mash-up of Feudal Japanese history and John Ford, even features Quentin Tarantino as a Japanese-speaking cowboy.
Tears of the Black Tiger – Wisit Sartsanatieng (Thailand 2000, excerpt)
Director Wisit Sasanatieng pays tribute to the Thai melodramas of the 1950s and 60s with this Technicolor tale.
The Good, the Bad, the Weird – Kim Jee-woon (South Korea 2008, excerpt)
A Wild West adventure film set in 1940s wartime Manchuria.
Squattertown (episode 1), 1st Man Down – Marco Sparmberg (Hong Kong 2011, 07:05 min)
A web video series that transplants a dystopian Western to the rooftops of Hong Kong, where real illegal “squatter” structures have grown up as a response to hyper-dense urban conditions
Mr Cowboy – Ric Aw/ Pok Yue Weng (Singapore 2012, 15:58 min)
Meet line-dancing fanatic Mr Cowboy who has to work on the night of the largest line dancing party – will this Singaporean midnight cowboy fulfill his dreams?