"The end of this film can be described in one word: brutal."
Violent Cop (1989)
Director: Takeshi Kitano
Producer: Hisao Nabeshima, Takio Yoshida, Shozo Ichiyama
Writer: Takeshi Kitano
Cast: Takeshi Kitano, Maiko Kawakami, Makoto Ashikawa, Shiro Sano, Shigeru Hiraizumi, Mikiko Otonashi, Hakuryu, Ittoku Kishibe, Ken Yoshizawa, Hiroyuki Katsube, Noboru Hamada, Yuuki Kawai, Ritsuko Amano, Taro Ishida, Katsuki Muramatsu, Kenichi Endo
Running Time: 103 min.
Plot: See reviews below.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
BRMANUK'S REVIEW: Very dark, grim and sometimes depressing film directed and staring "Beat" Takashi Kitano. Beat plays a hard working, no nonsense and at times kinda cool cop named Azuma (the "violent cop" of the title) who's brutal tactics often cause him trouble. This guy won't take shit from anyone, whether it's teenagers or fellow officers. The film portrays some strong images and emotions and. as Woody said, you probably will feel shitty after seeing it. Nevertheless I really enjoyed this film and I would say it is one of Kitano's best.
BRMANUK'S RATING: 9/10
LEN'S REVIEW: Flawed but promising would be the two adjectives I'd use to describe Takeshi Kitano's directing debut. While watching this film, some characteristics that we have gotten used to with Kitano's later movies are clearly visible, like the slow tempo matched with shocking violence or the beautiful cinematography. On the other hand, the storyline isn't all that interesting and it's a bit obvious that Kitano was still trying to find his style when it comes to storytelling. All the visual trademarks of a Kitano film are already here, but the storyline lacks the simple punch that his later films tend to have.
Woody already did a good job explaining the story, so I won't go there.
However, one thing that should be noted is that this is the only one of Kitano's films that isn't actually written by him. Violent Cop was originally being developed by Kinji Fukasaku and when he couldn't finish the project, the studio asked Kitano if he was interested in directing it. Having done comedy all his life, he agreed but demanded rights to rewrite parts of the story. That might be the reason why this film does seem somewhat uneven at times.
Still, even though I do consider this film to be somewhat flawed, it's still a pretty decent film. Not one of Kitano's best works (I'd say that this is one of his worst, but that'd be ignoring the crapness of his godawful Getting Any. Nothing else Kitano has ever done comes even near that piece of shit when it comes to bad films.), but still a film worth checking out. But if you're new to Kitano, I'd suggest seeing Sonatine or Hana-Bi first.
LEN'S RATING: 6/10
WOODY'S REVIEW: Grim, tough, and realistic directorial debut from Takeshi Kitano, one of Japan's hugest stars. I'll forewarn you right now, if you don't like grim, depressing movies, don't even bother with this one. Another thing I should mention before I get into this review is that this is not in any way a brainless action movie. There are no Woosian slow-mo double gun shootouts. There is no kung fu. There is nothing intricate or choreographed about the violence in this film. It looks real. I should also note that some of the violence, particularly towards the end, is quite graphic. So if you are squeamish, easily depressed, or a mindless action nut, you will most likely not care for this movie.
To get it out of the way, the plot of this film concerns Azuma (Takeshi Kitano), the violent cop of the title. The opening scene is a pretty good indicator of what's to come. As the film opens, a group of schoolboys beat and humiliate an old man. After they are finished and the old man is lying on the ground motionless, Azuma, who has been watching at a distance, follows one of the boys home. After the boy goes up to his room, Azuma knocks on the door of the house. The mother tells Azuma that the boy is in his room, so he jogs up to the room, forces the boy to let him in, and proceeds to smack the shit out of the kid. He then tells the kid to turn himself in in the morning. This scene illustrates Azuma's character pretty well. He's not the kind of cop to try to thwart a crime. He likes to let the criminals do their job so that he can do his. He's also very brutal. Shouting "Rodney King" isn't going to get you out of a beatdown with this guy. He probably wouldn't even know who you're talking about anyways (the film was made in 1989).
Getting on with it, the plot, well...it's hard to describe without giving a lot away, so I'll do the best I can while keeping it relatively short. Things just aren't going good for Azuma. His younger sister, who is released from a mental institution at the beginning of the film, is a whacked out (I believe) nymphomaniac. He's assigned a young, inexperienced partner. His superiors disagree with his brutal tactics. But things go from bad to worse when Azuma starts investigating a murder case involving the death of a drug dealer. That's about all I can say without spoiling a really great story and riddling this review with spoilers.
Now for the point in this review where I mercilessly kiss ass. Takeshi Kitano's directing is great; it's hard to believe this is his debut film. His directorial style is the polar opposite of someone like John Woo, Wong Kar-wai, or Takashi Miike. Kitano is much more reminiscent of older Kurosawa. There is no fast cutting or roaming cameras here. I think Kitano was going for more of a documentary feel here. Slow motion is used in only one scene, in which a cop is brutally beaten with a metal baseball bat. The musical score is also very well done, and not overused at all. Kitano has said in interviews that a good film needs only to rely on images to get the story across. Music, dialogue, etc. is unimportant. That is apparent here. Kitano gives a nice, understated performance, but rarely speaks. There are never any long explanation scenes, monologues,etc. Whether he is beating suspects, ordering sake, being yelled at by his superiors, or trying to talk to his looney toons sister, Kitano keeps the same deadpan look on his face. The only time he really lets loose is at the end of the film, but I won't spoil it for you.
The end of this film can be described in one word: brutal. This is one of those films that slowly rises in intensity until it explodes in an orgy of violence. Yes, I know, that sounds like something you would read on a box cover a B-grade action pic, but hey, I lost my thesaurus. This is a hard film for me to describe. The best comparison I can make with this movie is to the Radiohead song "Exit Music (For A Film)", off of their 1997 album OK Computer. Both the film and the song start slow and quietly, build up slowly in intensity, and then culminate in an outburst of all of the repressed and muted emotion that came before it. If you've never heard the song, then that will mean nothing to you. Don't let that stop you from seeing the movie, though.
In conclusion, this review is long and rambling and does not do the film justice. See it. This is one of those movies that really gets to you and has you feeling shitty after watching it. While I don't like feeling shitty, I never forget when I feel shitty, and as a result, I'll never forget this film. This film stays with you long after you have seen it, and that is as good a reason as any to see it. Very few films affect me in any way these days, but this one sure as hell did, and by doing so it gets my full recommendation. So there.
WOODY'S RATING: 9.5/10