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Japan 1989
Directed by
Takeshi Kitano
99 minutes
Rated MA

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3 stars

Violent Cop

Originally hired simply for the lead role, Takeshi Kitano took over the directing of this film from veteran gangster-film director Kinji Fukasaku who withdrew during pre-production. Although he had no film-making experience he rewrote the script and delivered a film that clearly evidences the features that he has since developed during his highly productive career - a fatalistic preoccupation with violence and death and its relative, sex; an elliptical treatment of narrative, and a blackly absurdist sense of humour, characteristics all embodied in his own somewhat reptilian screen persona, and an austere visual style making telling use of long-held shots and unusual framing.

Here Kitano plays Azuma, a detective with a short fuse and a mentally-ill sister (Maiko Kawakami) in a story that escalates from him slapping punks around the head to a bloody Western-like gun-fight that would have Quentin Tarantino licking his chops. Kitano takes the gangster genre and plays with it, sometimes investing it, as much at the level of form as content, with deadpan humour, sometimes seeming almost to wallow in sadistic tendencies, the outcome being a distinctively off-centred experience that deserves the label "auteurist".




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