WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
The film follows a Japanese mobster into the States after he's banished from his home country. He moves to L.A., where he meets up with his younger half-brother, and it isn't long before this non-English speaking badass starts pushing his weight around town and building up a contending crime syndicate of his own.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Yikes, talk about a movie being all style over substance! The least of what I was expecting from this movie was some great action sequences, fights or gun battles, but for some reason, the entire film cuts away from the action, just as it gets going, and leaves pretty much all of the violence to your imagination (read: low budget). I don't mind a little of that every now and again, but one scene in particular, featured an all-out gunfight between the Japanese and Italian mob factions, but all we see on the screen in a 20-second close-up of one dead guy, with lights and gunshots ringing off-screen. Woo-hoo. What a strange, strange film. First of all, if you want to see this movie for the story, forget about that right now because it's an unbelievable tale. This new Japanese mobster comes to town and within a few weeks, he's taking over all kinds of turf in L.A. from every single other ethnic group that's already been established there. Do the others put up a fight? Well, not really. Most of them are run over by this guy and his gang of 3rd grade looking tough guy partners like a steamroller, even though most of them look like they're terrified with what they're doing. Here's the movie's plot: kill bad guys, play basketball, repeat...kill bad guys, hang out, repeat...
The only real cool guy in this movie is the lead actor, and all he seriously does here is look into the camera motionless, with almost no dialogue, and his sunglasses on. That actually worked for me, but the problem is that the rest of the movie is so choppy, that you can't help but laugh at how easily things are going for these guys. No characters are developed, no real violence is shown on-screen (other than the aftermaths), no sense of genuine pace or momentum is ever gathered, the dialogue is stilted (and barely present at all) and some of the deliveries are just plain embarrassing (Aniki's younger brother is seriously awful). Granted, the film features lots of style, atmosphere, a slick score and a very cool look all around (the suits were gorgeous but most of the dudes wearing them looked two sizes too small), but where's the story, people? Where's the flow, the energy, the action?? The ending is also pure cheese, but what the hey...if you're a fan of stylish cinema like I am, you may want to rent it, just to see what this guy is all about (the star of the movie, Takeshi Kitano, is also its writer, producer and director).
Nada! And I mean....nothing! I guess Columbia didn't really believe in this picture (and I suppose that I could see why), but a little behind-the-scenes featurette or even some background on this popular Japanese director would have been greatly appreciated. Damn!! All we get are crappy trailers (excluding the one for this film....huh??) and a static menu.
For anyone interested in knowing more about this director, this film might be a decent rental, just to get an idea of what type of style he's known for, but action fans will definitely be disappointed with this movie. The lead character is definitely a badass (a la DIRTY HARRY), but the story is just too lame to take seriously. The disc also features no extras, so even fans of this guy aren't likely to be satisfied with this DVD. Rent John Woo's THE KILLER or HARDBOILED instead. Trust me...you get it all there!