Director: Takeshi Kitano
Writer: Takeshi Kitano
Producers: Masayuki Mori, Yasushi Tsuge, Takio Yoshida
Cast: Masanobu Ando, Ken Kaneko, Leo Morimoto, Hatsuo Yamaya, Mitsuko Oka, Ryo Ishibashi, Susumu Terajima, Koichi Shigehisa, Michisuke Kashiwaya, Yuko Daike, Atsuki Ueda, Ren Osugi, Masami Shimojoe
Running Time: 108 min.
Kids Return was not even close to being my favorite Takeshi Kitano movie, but it wasn’t bad in the least. It didn’t really even feel as much like a Kitano movie as one might expect, because there’s much more dialogue and much more happens as opposed to an almost minimalist style of film-making (like his others).
The plot follows two friends in high school, Masaru and Shinji, who are slackers and bullies. They’re going nowhere with their lives and donât ever study. Getting beat up motivates Masaru to take up boxing, and convinces Shinji to do the same. As Shinji gets better at it, Masaru quits school and boxing to join the Yakuza. The movie follows them for a few years as Shinji gets better and better at boxing and Masaru gets higher and higher in Yakuza ranks, and they grow further apart.
This movie seemed to me to involve lots of familiarity and then almost inevitable changes to that which the characters (and through them, us) find familiar. A number of restaurant scenes in which the same things happen repeatedly, but then one day change, is an example of this. Shinji’s training regimen is another example. He runs the same places every day, trains the same way, but then one day it is changed due to circumstances that are a somewhat key part of the plot (which I won’t spoil).
I did notice that this movie employs a theme that Kitano seems to use in a couple of his other movies. Without giving anything away, I’ll simply state it as being the rise and fall of characters in their particular focuses. Think Brother with the rise and fall of the gang in LA and Scene at the Sea with the rise and fall of Shigeru in his surfing career. It’s not as drastic in Kids Return, but is still fairly prominent and in perfect fitting with the title of the film.
This is yet another great Kitano film with a terrific Hisaishi score. You’d be wise to check it out if you like Kitano’s films at all.
Equinox21′s Rating: 8/10