Combustible Celluloid
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With: Takeshi Kitano, Aya Kokumai, Tetsu Watanabe, Masanobu Katsumura, Susumu Terajima, Ren Osugi, Tonbo Zushi, Ken'ichi Yajima, Eiji Minakata
Written by: Takeshi Kitano
Directed by: Takeshi Kitano
MPAA Rating: R for bloody shootings, language and some sexuality
Language: Japanese, with English subtitles
Running Time: 94
Date: 05/01/1993

Sonatine (1993)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Tough Guys

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Though the Chinese were the experts at martial arts and action movies, the Japanese developed a touch for both samurai and gangster movies. Director Takeshi Kitano managed a bit more credibility and prestige than some of his contemporaries, especially for daring and brilliantly constructed movies like Sonatine (1993). Performing under his stage name "Beat" Takeshi, he plays Murakawa, a yakuza sent to Okinawa to mediate a dispute. However, after an attack, he realizes that something is fishy, so he hides out with his men at a beach house and waits for whatever comes next. The bulk of the movie is about this waiting period as the men grow restless and play tense games with one another. Takeshi's style perfectly reflects this storytelling: he can be totally still and stoic for very long periods, and then, suddenly, explosive, intense violence. Quentin Tarantino was such a fan of this movie that he released it in the United States in 1998 under his Rolling Thunder label.

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