Film Scouts Reviews

"Hana-bi (Fireworks)"

by Kathleen Carroll

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The creative force behind this volatile, visually arresting film is Takeshi Kitano, a noted comedian and performance artist. A sort of Japanese John Garfield he has emerged as a powerful screen personality as well. Here he plays a hilariously tight-lipped and terrifyingly tough detective. The strong, silent type he's a glaring example of police brutality, using wet towels or any weapon at hand to effectively disarm his gangster victims with stunning speed. His sadistic exploits leave the audience gasping such as when he simply drops a knife over the face of a fallen yakuza.

The news that his wife is dying and his partner is paralyzed from a gunshot wound sends him over the edge into the world of mob hits and criminal activity. While his lonely partner, with his help, develops into an artist (his Seurat-like paintings of flower petals and his estranged family have a whimsical charm) he robs a bank. The film then takes an unexpectedly poignant turn as he and his wife enjoy a final holiday together, playing games and laughing like two carefree children.

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