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aka - Fireworks
Japan 1998
Directed by
Takeshi Kitano
103 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4.5 stars


Takeshi Kitano interweaves two main narrative strands in this film, that of Nishi, an ex-cop who is in trouble with the yakuza and whose wife, Miyuki (Kayoto Kishimoto), is dying of leukemia and that of a colleague, Horibe (Ren Osugi) who has been shot and paralyzed by a gangster. Whilst the former has fatalistically abandoned all desire to engage with the world, the latter strives to find new meaning through painting. Given that the paintings shown in the film are the director's own work, no doubt in this latter characterization the director is drawing on his experiences from the 1994 motorcycle accident that left his face partially paralysed.

Elliptical in its narrative approach, darkly melancholy, ironically humorous in mood and coldy violent, the film has been misleading compared with Reservoir Dogs. This is a very much more adventurous and affecting film than Tarantino's exercise in pulp fiction as it weaves together cops-and-robbers genre violence with an understated aesthetically-refined reflection on the way life passes us all in a form that is distinctly Japanese.  It is also one of the best of writer/star/editor/director Kitano's films, deservedly winning the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. 




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