Kitano adapts to the demands of 'international' film-making in very characteristic ways: by adopting the uncomplicated directness of Hollywood movies (no trace of the 'philosophical' dimensions of Sonatine or Hana-Bi here) and by remaining absolutely true to himself. He plays Tokyo yakuza Yamamoto, forcibly retired from his gang after a hostile takeover; fitted with a fake identity, he moves to Los Angeles to join his younger brother, who (he seems unsurprised to discover) has dropped out of college and started dealing drugs with a black gang. He brings just two items of baggage: the urge to dominate and a death wish, both of which infect his new associates like a virus. They put paid to a local Latino gang and assimiliate the Little Tokyo yakuza, but then run into the brick wall of the Mafia. Characterisation is present and resonant - the development of the relationship between Yamamoto and the black con-artist (Epps) is even quite touching - but subordinated to ruthless analysis of quasi-military tactics and strategies in the gang subculture. A film of almost diagrammatic clarity, in which questions of loyalty, honour and, yes, brotherhood are mere pieces on the chessboard.
Cast and crew