Kazuyoshi Okuyama

Kazuyoshi Okuyama

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Sonatine Review


Very Good
In close to a dozen movies as actor, director, and/or writer, Takeshi Kitano (who acts under the name Beat Takeshi) has reinvented the time-honored yakuza genre. Gangsters may act like gangsters the world over, but Kitano's Zen take on crime, punishment, and violence gives his films a uniquely Japanese vibe and make them well worth watching.

Sonatine gives us Kitano as Murakama, a burned-out and nearly silent mid-level thug who admits to his loyal sidekick Takahashi (Kenichi Yajima) that he's just plain tired. "Maybe you're too rich for this business," retorts Takahashi, and it may be true. As a trusted member of the local gang, Murakama gets big assignments, but lately he's been suspecting that the higher-ups are trying to get rid of him. When the big boss commands him to take a team to the island of Okinawa to settle a regional gang war, Murakama is suspicious. Could it be that the boss wants to trigger a bloodbath so he can move in and take over the turf? Something smells like sushi.

Continue reading: Sonatine Review

Izo Review


Bad
Legendarily outrageous Japanese director Takashi Miike swings for the fences every time. When he connects, with films such as Audition, Visitor Q, and Ichi the Killer, the results are unforgettable, true home runs of wild depravity. When he misses, he misses big. Unfortunately, Izo is one of those epic whiffs.

The hyperproductive Miike (he's helmed an astounding 64 movies in 13 years) loves to push the boundaries of cinematic violence, and in Izo, he also pushes the boundary of time itself, taking his story across three centuries in hopscotch fashion. It all starts with a crucifixion in 1865. Izo (Kazuya Nakayama) is an assassin who is captured, tortured, and killed by soldiers of the Shogun. The problem is that he doesn't really die. Instead, he becomes an avenging ghost of death, traveling through time to spread murder and mayhem wherever he happens to land. He has some serious rage issues.

Continue reading: Izo Review

Kazuyoshi Okuyama

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Kazuyoshi Okuyama Movies

Sonatine Movie Review

Sonatine Movie Review

In close to a dozen movies as actor, director, and/or writer, Takeshi Kitano (who acts...

Izo Movie Review

Izo Movie Review

Legendarily outrageous Japanese director Takashi Miike swings for the fences every time. When he connects,...

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