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Prisoners Of The Ghostland review: Cowboys meet geishas in Nicolas Cage's bizarre film

·Contributor
·3-min read
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Length: 102 minutes
Director: Sion Sono
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Sofia Boutella, Nick Cassavetes, Bill Moseley, and Tak Sakaguchi

In theatres from 7 October 2021 (Singapore)

1.5 stars out of 5

Actor Nicholas Cage has officially gone over the hill, if he hasn’t yet already.

I mean, when was the last time Cage acted in a movie that really moved the masses? I honestly cannot recall. Maybe an eon ago in Leaving Las Vegas (1995).

Prisoners Of The Ghostland makes you feel exactly like its title — captive and enthralled in disbelief at its bizarre, convoluted themes of East-meets-West, with Wild Wild West cowboys twanging in Southern drawls alongside geishas cackling in unintelligible Japanglish.

More mystifying is the plot. Cage is a notorious bandit captive to the Governor (Bill Moseley) of Samurai Town (someone needs to behead this scriptwriter) and protected by an aggressively brooding Japanese samurai, Yasujiro (Tak Sakaguchi).

Cage is dragged out one fine day, completely naked except for his tighty-whities and made fun of in front of the town, which consists of (surprise) geishas, kimono-garbed Japanese folk wielding swords, and bleating trigger-happy cowboys.

In order to redeem himself for robbing the local bank, Hero (yes, that’s Cage’s character’s name) is tasked by the Governor to rescue his adopted granddaughter Bernice (Sofia Boutella), who has escaped from town and is wandering somewhere around Ghostland.

Hero is then forcibly suited in a leather onesie, which has six orbs that will explode on various parts of his body if he demonstrates or intends harm towards the Governor’s daughter. He has five days to find Bernice, or the two orbs at his throat will explode and kill him.

Nicolas Cage in Prisoners Of The Ghostland. (Photo: Shaw Organisation)
Nicolas Cage in Prisoners Of The Ghostland. (Photo: Shaw Organisation)

The rest of the movie is a painful and hazy lollygagger which made absolutely no sense. Cage can’t decide whether to cycle or drive his way to Ghostland, but eventually crashes after he decides to drive after encountering some ‘ghosts’.

He is rescued by very strange people reminiscent of the set of Mad Max, and is dragged to their even stranger town populated by an eclectic bunch of misfits who are constantly playing a tug-of-war with a clock tower in a bid to stop time.

There’s also an English pastor who functions as the village head who leads them from a mobile library wagon thingy, and a Chinese lady who squawks prophetic sayings in Mandarin, which are promptly translated into butchered English by a chorus of lackeys.

I just can’t take this movie seriously.

But one scene that absolutely takes the cake was when one of the orbs on Cage’s suit explodes in his groin area, and the actor holds up a bloody testicle in one hand and stares at it almost lovingly before collapsing into the dust.

Which perfectly summarises how I felt about the movie. If you feel like gouging out your testicles while watching Prisoners Of The Ghostland, do know that you are not the only one.

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