Film Review: Brother (2000) by Takeshi Kitano

Whereas Takeshi Kitano’s ninth characteristic as a director looks like a return to the yakuza style, and thus characters and themes he had already explored in works like “Sonatine”, “Violent Cop” and “Hana-Bi”, the mission itself marks a elementary turning level within the profession of the filmmaker. For a very long time, he and producer Masayuki Mori had been negotiating with US-American producer Jeremy Thomas for “Brother”, a movie whose story can be set in each Japan and the USA, extra particularly Tokyo and Los Angeles. As Thomas places it, the best problem was to verify Kitano would have the identical working circumstances in the USA he was accustomed to from his works in Japan. Ultimately, “Brother” started filming in late 1999 and was completed in early 2000, and thus turned an entry into the director’s filmography which appears to divide his followers to at the present time.

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For a few years, Yamamoto (Takeshi Kitano) has been a loyal bodyguard for some of the highly effective clans in Tokyo, however regardless of his greatest efforts, he was unable to guard his boss from being assassinated. Humiliated by his incapability to foresee the occasion and the eventual dissolution of the clan, he’s livid when introduced with the choices of both becoming a member of the brand new syndicate or commit seppuku. When it’s clear, Yamamoto will proceed to disturb the newfound peace throughout the underworld, he turns into a nuisance to the brand new bosses, who determine to kill him. However with the assistance of his affiliate Kato (Susumu Terajima), he is ready to go away the nation and fly to the USA, the place he hopes to search out refuge together with his half-brother Ken (Claude Maki).

Nonetheless, the tales of Ken being a pupil show unsuitable when Yamamoto arrives at his residence in Los Angeles, realizing the cash he had despatched him over time has been spent on medicine and turning into a seller. After confronting Ken about his lies, and studying about what he does for a dwelling, the previous yakuza decides to lend a serving to hand, heading off an affiliate from the Mexican mafia, and thus upsetting a battle with the mob. After Kato has additionally arrived in Los Angeles, Yamamoto decides to start out his circle of relatives within the USA by taking up the district managed by the Mexican mob.

On the floor, you would possibly simply come to the identical conclusion as many different followers of the director/actor, which is that “Brother” seems like a “Better of Kitano”. From the appears to be like of the gangsters, the outbursts of violence in addition to the subliminal themes of dying and nihilism, there’s a lot in his ninth characteristic that has already been introduced in his earlier options, which have been talked about already. Nonetheless, this method ignores the shift in tone in “Brother”, a characteristic marking an necessary incision in Kitano’s work, which might, till the beginning of the “Outrage”-series, go away the a lot treaded floor of the yakuza-genre. In some ways, “Brother” might also be considered a logical subsequent step to “Sonatine” contemplating it’s way more pessimistic and darker, a companion piece maybe.

One of many many points supporting this concept could be the character of Yamamoto himself. Just like Murakawa in “Sonatine”, he’s additionally outlined by his standing as a soldier throughout the hierarchy of the Japanese underworld, a lot he must implement the identical system within the “new world” he’s compelled to go to. Each of them are conscious of the sort of betrayal and dying surrounding them, and their incapability to cease the inevitable demise of their males and themselves, however whereas Murakawa merely awaits what will occur, Yamamoto turns into a decisive drive in rushing up the method. Kitano performs this gangster character much more passive, together with his eyes at all times hidden behind darkish shades and his arms buried deep inside his pockets, whereas he merely observes his empire being established and later falling into items. Whereas his different males, additionally Kato and Ken, are outlined by the actions and their selections (deadly as they could be), he can’t be touched and stays distant, albeit for his relationship to Denny performed by Omar Epps, who appears to have discovered some sort of understanding with the gangster regardless of the language barrier.

Within the context of the gangster style itself, “Brother” is maybe greatest considered because the antithesis to the American gangster epic, most notably Brian De Palma’s “Scarface”. Whereas each options inform tales of outsiders making their very own model of the American Dream come true, Al Pacino’s Tony Montana engages actively within the consumerist mentality of Nineteen Eighties America, accumulating property, companies and, after all, medicine in extreme portions. Though a few of his underlings, like Ken or Denny, are pushed by cash and standing to some extent, Yamamoto has ceased to have any sort of ideology motivating his actions. Even life and dying have misplaced their that means to him, which can be defined by his connection to the yakuza, however on the identical time the hyperlink appears to be branded deeper into his persona. Ultimately, presenting this model of the American Dream, as a vapid phantasm is what can be on the core of “Brother” as all the opposite “outsiders” – Mexicans, Italians and African-Individuals – are trying to find one thing that’s now not there, and perhaps has by no means been there within the first place.

Aside from the performing and the themes, there are two extra options which make “Brother” stand out and exceed being a mere repetition of what the director has accomplished beforehand. The primary component is the mix of Kitano’s modifying and Katsumi Yanagijima’s cinematography, which echoes their work within the director’s different options, most notably, “Sonatine”. The variations of Los Angeles and Tokyo introduced are void of any particular indicator making them distinct, which coincides with the concept of Yamamoto principally repeating the identical vicious cycle he has recognized all of his life, apart from him turning into a driving drive behind it. Moreover, this consciousness of dying, a form of melancholy you would possibly say, might be felt all through Joe Hisaishi’s rating, with the jazzy undertones and the piano tunes supporting these notions of the empty dream and the characters being unable (and even unwilling) to cease the inevitable.

In conclusion, “Brother” isn’t a repetition or “better of” of Takeshi Kitano’s earlier works. Certainly, the director/actor presents the logical conclusion to the tales and characters he has explored prior to now, exhibiting a way more cynical model of them in his ninth characteristic. On the identical time, Kitano exhibits the gangster determine as one who can not assist taking the cycle of dying and destruction with him wherever he goes, unable to cease what he perceives as inevitable. Apart from the performances, the sensible cinematography and Joe Hisashi’s rating, probably the greatest works of the composer, make “Brother” an necessary work within the director’s profession, or, on the very least, a major incision.

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