Brother DVD review

Film / Video Reviews
Brother DVD review
Jan 2, 2002, 19:41

BROTHER directed by Takeshi Kitano; Sony Pictures Classics, 2001

“Beat” Kitano has made his first film set in the United States, and the now customary tale of a stone-faced yakuza dealing with death and honor makes the transition to America just fine. Kitano is one director whose best work thrives within the limitations of genre, and the general plot direction of Brother, though familiar to anyone who has seen Fireworks (yeah, almost everyone dies in the end), holds up well. There are enough nods to the ethnic diversity of L.A. here with Mexican gangs, the Mafia and local L.A. Japanese gangsters for Kitano's character of an exiled yakuza to deal with. And some great scenes set in Japan as stage setting and plot details. In a lot of ways Brother is a gangster movie in the old style: like Little Caesar it is the story of one man's rise and fall. Like most of Kitano's films it is alternately frantic and contemplative. Kitano has a gift for slowly developing scenes that are almost purely observational, focusing details on setting and physical details that would not be out of place in a movie by Ozu. The tension between the two and the story of one character's grim destiny as he tries to carve an individual place out in a strict hierarchical social order (a longtime theme in Japanese literature) drive this movie. While I would recommend Fireworks as an introduction to anyone who has never seen a “Beat” Kitano movie, Brother, is a must for fans of hardboiled crime drama and followers of Kitano's work. I hope he gets to make more movies in America.

-Bruce Adams

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