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Brother Review


Weak
Violence is bad. Violence is ugly. Violence breeds yet more violence. Kids, don't try this at home. This weighty message isn't the only barrier to enjoying Brother, but it's certainly one of the largest.

Written, directed by, and starring the infamous Takeshi Kitano (Kikujiro, Sonatine) Brother is his first film made outside his familial Japan, bringing the yakuza tradition to Los Angeles. (Yakuza translated for the average American is the Japanese mafia.)

Continue reading: Brother Review

Ichi The Killer Review


Essential
Twenty minutes into Takashi Miike's latest, visceral opus Ichi the Killer, I had to stop the film in fear of going mad from the mayhem I was witnessing. A violent opera of sadism filled with mutilated yakuza, masochistic prostitutes, and innocent victims caught up in a swath of incendiary revenge, Ichi the Killer is nothing short of a masterpiece -- and a challenging one.

Takashi Miike is no stranger to producing disturbing, genre-busting, and gut-wrenching cinematic treats like the Dead or Alive series, Audition, and Visitor Q. Watching a Miike film is akin to tossing the works of Billy Wilder, John Ford, Werner Fassbinder, Clive Barker, and David Cronenberg into a blender on puree mode. Then throw the mix against the wall, wipe it up with a sponge, and squeeze it onto fresh celluloid.

Continue reading: Ichi The Killer Review

A Snake Of June Review


OK
Bullet Ballet director Shinya Tsukamoto turns to perversity and blackmail with the oddly titled A Snake of June, a black and white (or more accurately, blue and white) mystery that will first catch your eye, then have you scratching your head.

It starts with a demure Japanese woman who receives a letter in the mail, inscribed "Secrets of your husband." Inside are photographs of her in a tart outfit and -- gasp -- wearing makeup. Hubby wouldn't approved, so when the blackmailer calls on her cell phone, ordering her to go buy a vibrator and lock herself in a bathroom stall with it, she obliges.

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After Life Review


Weak
In Japan, the dead wait for a week in limbo, as a heavenly film crew asks them to pick just one memory from their lives that they want to take with them to the next.

Sounds interesting... but it ain't. After Life is so boring despite its intriguing possibilities, mainly because the bulk of the film involves these angel-types figuring out how best to make short films re-enacting these fond memories. Say what? Baffling doesn't equal fascinating, guys.

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Moon Child Review


OK
If you're a 14-year-old Japanese girl, Moon Child will be without a doubt the best movie you've ever seen. But even if you're not, this teenage yakuza vampire thriller/melodrama starring two of Japan's dreamiest androgynous male pop stars has enough going for it to hold your interest. As a window into current Japanese pop culture, it can't be beat.

We find ourselves in an "Asian special economic zone" called Mallepa, a teeming city-state where for some unexplained reason, the Japanese population has been marginalized and turned into refugees and criminals. The year is 2014.

Continue reading: Moon Child Review

Brother Review


OK

Japan's king of the artistically extra-violent yakuza flick, Takeshi Kitano (aka "Beat" Takeshi), makes his English language debut in "Brother," a heavy, moody L.A. gangland drama that has all the bloody shootouts the writer-director-actor is known for, but loses its grip as it tries to grab for an emotional hook.

Kitano stars as a hunted Tokyo mob enforcer who escapes to Los Angeles after a turf war that left his clan decimated and his own brother acquiescing to the enemy. He muscles in on the operation of another, younger half-brother (Claude Maki) who is scraping by as a petty thug, and quickly organizes the brother's shabby crew into a merciless force poised to take over the local territories of both street and Mafia gangs.

There's a vicious circle, rise-and-fall element to Kitano's story in "Brother," as he rapidly builds a minor empire with his brother and another fiercely distrusting lieutenant, played by Omar Epps ("In Too Deep," "Love and Basketball") at his side. Just the gang's move from a small room in the back of a warehouse to a swanky office in a converted gymnasium (complete with leather couches, a redwood conference table and an accountant) should be enough to signal impending and violent storm clouds on the horizon in the minds of savvy moviegoers.

Continue reading: Brother Review

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Susumu Terajima Movies

Brother Movie Review

Brother Movie Review

Violence is bad. Violence is ugly. Violence breeds yet more violence. Kids,...

Ichi the Killer Movie Review

Ichi the Killer Movie Review

Twenty minutes into Takashi Miike's latest, visceral opus Ichi the Killer, I had to stop...

Advertisement
Moon Child Movie Review

Moon Child Movie Review

If you're a 14-year-old Japanese girl, Moon Child will be without a doubt the best...

Brother Movie Review

Brother Movie Review

Japan's king of the artistically extra-violent yakuza flick, Takeshi Kitano (aka "Beat" Takeshi), makes his...

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