review for Princess Raccoon on AllMovie

Princess Raccoon (2005)
by Josh Ralske review

Fans of Seijun Suzuki's stylized gangster films who felt the director got a bit too surreal in the final moments of Pistol Opera had best prepare themselves for the onslaught of enchanting fairy tale weirdness that is Princess Raccoon. This is the only film in recent memory to include the brief but memorable image of a guy in a raccoon mask doing the Robot, not to mention a vengeful Zhang Ziyi (luminous as always as the eponymous princess) flying into a scene on a cardboard cloud, or an action sequence in which forbidden lovers are caught in a whirlpool which has been painted onto the stage under their rowboat. Once one has become acclimated to the film's wonderful stagy strangeness, it's not such a shock late in the film when two powerful adversaries are engaged in a magical battle that has reached a stalemate, and decide to go "hand-to-hand," and that turns out to mean they'll determine the outcome with a game of "Rock, Paper, Scissors." Like Lars von Trier's post-Dogme 95 work, Princess Raccoon is, to some degree, a filmed stage production, but with its exuberantly colorful, eclectic musical numbers, it's as joyously funny as Dogville is dour. For those prepared to engage the movie's playfulness, it's a unique treat.