Best sequence is the prologue, with Tarantino (in a luridly colored desert-ranch set) playing gunslinger Piringo. After doing some spectacular things with a gun, a hawk and a snake, poncho-wearing Piringo tells the story of the (red-clad) Heike and (white-clad) Genji clans, who clashed at the legendary Battle of Dannoura in 1185. Half the joke is that Piringo speaks English like a cross between Toshiro Mifune and Takakura Ken; the other half is that it's Tarantino having a rocking good time.
Main yarn is set "several hundred years after the Battle of Dannoura" -- the late 1880s, if some gravestones are to be believed -- in the small, dust-blown town of Yuta, Nebada (Japanese does not have the "v" sound). Looking like a spaghetti-Western set crossed with a samurai movie, Yuta is ruled by both the Heike, led by mad, volatile Kiyomori (Koichi Sato), and the Genji, led by epicene, cool-headed Yoshitsune (Yusuke Iseya, grabbing most of the acting honors). Both clans have been lured by the promise of gold in them thar hills.
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