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Sono Otoko, Kyobo ni Tsuki

Violent Cop

Japan 1989
produced by
Shozo Ichiyama, Hisao Nabeshima, Takio Yoshida, Kazuyoshi Okuyama (executive) for Bandai Visual, Shochiku
directed by Takeshi Kitano (= Beat Takeshi)
starring Beat Takeshi (= Takeshi Kitano), Maiko Kawakami, Makoto Ashikawa, Hakuryu, Ittoku Kishibe, Sei Hiraizumi (= Shigeru Hiraizumi), Mikiko Otonashi, Ken Yoshizawa, Shiro Sano, Hiroyuki Katsube, Noboru Hamada, Yuuki Kawai, Ritsuko Amano, Taro Ishida, Katsuki Muramatsu, Kenishi Endo, Ei Kawakami, Kiminari Matsumoto, Zhao Fanghao
written by Hisashi Nozawa, music by Daisaku Kume

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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In 1989, when this movie was made, Takeshi Kitano was already a popular TV-comedian (and occasional character actor) in Japan ... but outside of Japan, he was hardly known at all.

For all those who only knew Kitano as comedian though, this film must have been a shock: a hard-boiled, violent, bloody, realistic cop story that (at least on first look) shows no mercy. But the film also introduced Kitano - who wasn't supposed to direct this film at all, allegedly veteran Kinji Fukasaku was supposed to - as a visionary director, who could carefuly balance realistic bloodletting and poetic shots, a no-nonsense atmosphere and very dry humour, and chases and shoot-outs aplenty and an intelligent story - that he soon became a favourite at international film festivals is thus hardly surprising !

But first things first ...

 

The plot: Azumi (Takeshi Kitano) is the titular violent cop: He wants to install law and order, but when it comes to the means to do so, he is not too particular - he often beats confessions out of suspects, runs them over with his car or pulls his gun unprovoked to frighten them. Things get pretty much out of control when he and his partner, newbie Kikuchi (Makoto Ashikawa), investigate the death of a drugdealer ... and the only real clue leads to Azumi's colleague and best friend Iwaki (Sei Hiraizumi), who seems to have sold drugs from police storage to drug kingpin Nito (Ittoku Kishibe). But once Azumi and Kikuchi are on Iwaki's trail, Iwaki seems to disappear ... only to show up a few days later hanging from a bridge by his neck. The official statement is suicide, only Azumi refuses to believe that ... especially when a few more deaths dan also be linked to the whole drugdeal affair.

Soon enough, Azumi figures out that Nito and his killer Kiyohiro (Hakuryu) must be behind the affair, but when Azumi arrests Kiyohiro under a false pretence and brutally beats him up and even threatens to kill him while in police custody, not only is Kiyohiro released, but Azumi is also fired from his job.

But now Kiyohiro is furious, and he wants revenge ... so he first has Azumi's retarded sister Akari (Maiko Kawakami) kidnapped by three drug addicts who shoot her up with heroin and gangrape her - whjich she doesn't even seem to notice in her mental state -, then he tries to assassinate Azumi himself, , but Azumi manages to defent himself, even if he gets badly injured.

Now Azumi is furious too, so he buys himself a gun at the black market (after all, he isn't a cop anymore) and first bursts into Nito's office and shoots him in cold blood. Then he pays a visit to Kiyohiro, who has since shot his raping drug addicts, and the two shoot it out ... with Azumi shooting his opponent dead, but emerging from it seriously injured. When he sees what Kiyohiro and company have made of his sister - an out-of-her-mind drug addict -, he shoots her too.

When he wants to leave the scene though,he himself is shot by Shinkai (Ken Yoshizawa), Nito's second-in-command, who has now moved up in the ranks ...

In the end, there is no more violent cop. But newbie Kikuchi has taken it upon himself to supply new drug kingpin Shinkai with drugs ...

 

What is fascinating about this film is that it does not go the easy way of telling an action story with a good cop and bad villains with the good cop's methods just being means to an end (like, let's say, Don Siegel's Dirty Harry), in this film Azumi is no hero, his methods are wrong - and eventually get him fired -, they only invoke more violence, and in the end, Azumi himself has become a killer, and by now is right only in his own book (after all, he shoots his own, innocent sister). Likewise in a scene an innocent passer-by is shot, for which Azumi is at least partly responsible - but by then he is too far gone to even notice. If all that sounds too academic for you though, let me assure you everything is packed into an entertaining and engaging action film that does in no scene try to push its moral.

Highest recommendation !!!

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Thanks for watching !!!

 

 

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Out now from
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On the same day
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD