Blog Archives

Outrage Beyond (2012)

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My first film at this year’s Sydney Film Festival was Outrage Beyond, the great Japanese director Takeshi Kitano’s follow-up to 2010’s yakuza film Outrage. Set in the same universe of gangsters in pinstripes, black sedans and sudden violence, it picks up the story some years after the events of the first film.… (read more)

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Battle Royale – Director’s Cut (2000)

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If the popularity of The Hunger Games (2012) has sparked thousands of socially-networked Gen-X grumblings about the film just being a sappy version of Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale (as in the “do you know what they call Hunger Games in France/Japan” meme or just superficial nit-picking), there’s at least the consolation that a new fascination with teenage death games has led to Battle Royale re-entering the cultural consciousness, even if only as a point of comparison. This isn’t such … (read more)

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Outrage (2010)

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The last film I saw from Japanese powerhouse director Takeshi Kitano was his wonderful update of Zatoichi in 2003. Since then, he’s made a trio of more personal films that some have described as his ‘surrealist autobiographical’ trilogy: Takeshis’, Glory to the Filmmaker! and Achilles and the Tortoise. This film marks his return to more commercial territory, the yakuza film, in which scheming mob bosses and ambitious young thugs do battle on the street.

Kitano plays Otomo, a … (read more)

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Boiling Point (1990)

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Boiling Point is every Kitano fan’s dream; the humour, the action, the violence, the style, and the narrative, all scream trademark Kitano.

Boiling Point is narratively well crafted. Kitano has done what he always does, which is to create a film with heavy investment in extreme contrast. Often it is the contrast between ultra-violence and humour, or between dynamism and stillness, but in Boiling Point, character contrast is most explicit. The passive characters that make up the film’s baseball … (read more)

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Battle Royale (2000)

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When Battle Royale was released in Japan in December 2000 it received a R-15 classification, meaning that director Kinji Fukusaku’s primary audience could not legally see the film. Fukusaku therefore went public with a statement to the effect of “Children! I made this film for you! See it however you can — break the law! Sneak into the cinema! Just watch the film!”

Fukusaku wasn’t just worried about his box office — BR isn’t just for teenagers because it exploits … (read more)

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Hana-Bi (1997)

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Hana-Bi can be considered quintessential Kitano, and is one of his most acclaimed, and most frequently acclaimed, works. It was made after Kitano’s brush with death in a motorcycle accident that left him partially paralysed for a time, and carries the painful awareness of irrevocable loss that I’ve come to associate with Kitano films.

Kitano is probably best known as a director of yakuza films, or at least is perceived that way. While there is a certain amount of gangster … (read more)

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Brother (2000)

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I watched over 100 people die violent celluloid deaths today. It may have got to me. 67 of those died by bullet, knife, bomb, piano wire and/or chopsticks in Takeshi Kitano’s new film Brother.

This is actually the first time I’ve watched a Takeshi Kitano film. Gasps of shock, shaking of heads, tuts of tut-tut. Calls himself an Asian film reviewer and has yet to watch the greatest living director of Japanese yakuza as he paint the walls red? … (read more)

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Sonatine (1993)

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This is one of Kitano’s finest films, despite its faults. It’s the first film in which he showed the gentleness and compassionate tolerance of human faults for which he’s become renowned, as well as the playfulness that sits oddly in a yakuza film.

The first half of the film drags a little: it’s mainly setting the scene and delineating the characters. Worthwhile, it’s true, but it could have been done in less time. Had Kitano made this film now, with … (read more)

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