Kitano's Venice prize-winner mixes tenderness, violence and droll humour. A recently retired cop drifts towards a one-off crime, to help out a suicidal colleague crippled in a disastrous stake-out, and to take his terminally ill wife on one last trip around Japan. It's exceptionally assured, imaginative and idiosyncratic: the violence is sudden, brutal and almost all in the editing; the working of Kitano's own delightful paintings into the story is astonishingly resonant; the mise-en-scène as sharp and inventive as in Sonatine; and it's all held together by Beat Takeshi's unprecedentedly taciturn, impassive, but expressive performance, which is crucial to the film's emotional punch. Fans of Melville, Keaton, Hawks and Peckinpah should be especially impressed, but anyone with a modicum of patience, an open mind and a little love in their heart will probably recognise it as a masterpiece.
Cast and crew