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volume 3 issue 8

In This Issue

Contents 2
Features 3
Chasing Otakuism 10
Anime Briefs 11
Reviews 12
Web Showcase 26
18 home / august 2002 / reviews Turn Page BackwardBack to HomeTurn Page Forward

Beat Takeshi's Brother DVD
113 minutes
Columbia/Tristar Studios
Takeshi Kitano
Yeah, it's Live Action. You got a problem with that? Good, cause I'd hate to set my Yakuza brother on your ass.
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Beat Takeshi's Brother DVD
By En Hong

I’m a big fan of movies… hell, I’ve clocked in more time watching live action films than anime (which leaves precious little day-space for such things like sleeping and going to the bathroom). That being said, Beat Takeshi’s Brother was the first Japanese film I have ever seen. I really didn’t know what to expect... was it going to be all "different" from western films? Was it going to leave me uncomfortably squirming around like a snake after a bad encounter with a lawnmower? No more questions and more answers on this month’s "En reviews a Japanese movie!"

I need to confess. I just told you a complete and total lie in the last paragraph. Brother is not a Japanese movie. It stars Omar Epps -a black dude, it’s shot in LA, and most of the dialogue is in English. "Why is this so?" You cry, "What is the crazy American madness which graces the pages of Animefringe?" I have a simple answer: Brother is Takeshi "Beat" Kitano’s first American film. So what does that make the movie? Japanese? American? Who the hell cares!

Brother is a movie filled to the brim with yakuza themes. Yakuza are just like the mafia, but in Japan and with a lust for swords, sake, and schoolgirls. That being said, you’d expect this movie to be an insatiable frenzy of organized and murderous pedophiles peddling "protection" and putting a hit on anyone in their way. If you like that kind of movie, you’re a sick bastard. I’m not a sick bastard, and I like Brother, so put on your thinking caps folks, and let’s use some deductive logic!

I wouldn’t go so far as to label this movie an action flick. The backdrop is such: A yakuza gangster exiles himself to America after his Boss is killed, ending a long gang war. He meets up with his small time, drug-pushing, younger brother and they instigate a bloody overtake of LA’s crime families, placing themselves at the top of the pecking order. Brother is not a movie that focuses on action. It is a movie about the characters, their drive, their story, and the bonds that form between them.

Takeshi Kitano is known for his steady and methodic directorial style. Brother is a perfect example of his work as its story is told through a subtle and almost tangible softness punctuated by moments of sheer hardcore action. The Hollywood habit of stuffing every action movie with large guns, explosions, and cart wheeling deaths is refreshingly absent. When people get capped in this flick, they drop to the ground and stay there. You know why? Because when people get shot with real guns, they DIE.

Methodical and slow paced, Brother brilliantly elicits the gamut of emotional response; from awe to happiness, sadness, and even laughter. In my opinion, it’s quite a masterpiece of film, and totally different from anything else I have ever come across. A note of warning though: this movie is not for those expecting an all out action-fest, this is an intelligent character-driven tale brought to you by the man, Kitano Takeshi.

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