A triple bill of masterful yakuza thrillers from 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano.
Violent Cop: Japanese superstar "Beat" Takeshi Kitano makes his directorial debut in this critically acclaimed action film in which he also stars as Azuma, an urban cop at the end of his rope. Not above using violent tactics in order to punish the lawless, Azuma's daily routine involves a new partner and a mentally challenged sister. When his violent ways cause the death of a friend, his short fuse comes dangerously close to reaching its' end...
Boiling Point: When Masaki, a gas station attendant and local baseball player incurs the wrath of the local yakuza, the notorious Japanese criminal organization, he heads to Okinawa to buy a gun so he can stand up for himself. While there, he is joined in his quest for revenge by a former gangster (Kitano), who seemingly has his own reasons for revenge. Violence escalates until the mild-mannered Masaki takes an oil truck from his gas station and drives it straight into yakuza headquaters...
Sonatine: Takeshi is Murakawa, an established and ruthless Yakuza, sent outside his usual turf to intervene in a gang war on the tropical island of Okinawa. Things go badly wrong and he and his gang get caught in the crossfire. Forced to retreat to a seaside hideaway, they kill time and fool around on the beach, but then their enemies start picking them off one by one. Murakawa decides to go on the offensive for a final and breathtaking showdown...
The genius of Kitano.
- Takeshi Trilogy: The Beat review by Shatner's Bassoon
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The 'Beat' Takeshi Trilogy contains the three films more commonly known as Takeshi Kitano's crime trilogy. Consisting of 'Violent Cop', 'Boiling Point' and 'Sonatine', the plots of all three films are themed around the Japanese yakuza, although the plots of each film are not linked in any way, so you can watch them in any order you wish.
Violent Cop revolves around the character of Azuma, a police detective who runs out of patience and resorts to violence and unethical methods to get results. Under pressure from an increasingly heavy workload, Azuma is put under further stress when assigned an inexperienced new partner. Finally reaching breaking point when a fellow cop is killed and drug dealers take his sister hostage, he then decides to take matters into his own hands and dish out his own form of justice. Although a great film in its own right, 'Violent Cop' isn't really a true Kitano film, as he didn't write it and only took over as director when original director Kinji Fukasaku pulled out of the film at the last minute. The result is a bleak and gritty film which ranks among one of the best within modern Japanese cinema, though lacks the wit and beauty of his later films.
Boiling Point tells the story of two members of a junior baseball team who get on the wrong side of the local yakuza. After their baseball coach is beaten up by the yakuza, the two boys decide to travel to Okinawa to buy a gun and get revenge. While in Okinawa they befriend Uehara, a yakuza outcast who joins then on their quest for revenge. Boiling Point is in reality the first proper Takeshi Kitano film as both writer and director, and contains Kitano's renowned dry humour and stunning cinematography which is seen in later films. Tragic, funny, exciting and challenging, 'Boiling Point' sets the high standard of Kitano's subsequent films.
Sonatine tells the story of middle aged yakuza boss Murakawa who is ordered to take his gang to Okinawa to settle a minor gangland conflict and return peace to the area. However, when they arrive they are attacked and are forced to retreat to the beach and wait until they get further orders from their Tokyo bosses. While the gang members seem content to relax and play on the beach, their fun comes to an abrupt end as they find themselves being bumped off one by one until Murakawa decides to face his rivals head on. If you've never experienced a Takeshi Kitano film before then 'Sonatine' is a good indicator as to what to expect; beautifully shot, minimal dialogue, absorbing characters, sensitive, witty, stylish, emotional and spellbinding to watch. The term 'genius' is used far to liberally these days, but in Takeshi Kitano's case it's very well deserved, it's hard to think of any other contemporary director who consistently makes films of such high quality and in years to come will be considered some of the most significant in world cinema.