Bullet Points: Sonatine (1993)
Today marks the return of Foreign Film Friday! There has been an amazing response to it in the past. I’ve received hundreds of thousands of letters/emails/faxes/sexts from fans about films that I’ve reviewed or films that I still need to watch. So consider this a treat for all of you Japanese film fanatics.
Synopsis: A group of Yakuza from Tokyo are sent to Okinawa to broker a peace between two local groups when the war escalates and the men are forced to hide out in a house on the beach.
- Never Send a Boy: The Yakuza bosses send Murakawa (the amazing Takeshi Kitano), whose own territory has been incredibly successful as of late, to oversee a peace between two separate groups on the island of Okinawa. Murakawa and his crew think it’s a set-up at first but go without making a stink. Of course, they realize that it’s totally a set-up and they’re up shit creek without a paddle.
- FYI: If you’ve never seen a movie by Takeshi Kitano then you could definitely start out with Sonatine. I’ve seen at least 4 of his movies and he always seems to be playing the same character; one who is depressing as hell to watch. But there is no better actor to portray the depressing nature of the Yakuza than Kitano.
- Music: I don’t know who did the music (go look it up) but it’s oddly beautiful in a scary way.
- Let’s Have a Beer Together: When the crew sits down at the bar to have a few drinks and unwind they find themselves in a pretty serious gun battle. The kind of gun battle that is loud and in your face. Let’s just say that by the time Murakawa and his men leave the bar they’re down a few men.
- Rock, Paper, Scissors: A word of advice; never play rock, paper, scissors with a Yakuza boss.
- Bring on the Weird: This might seem like it’s way out of context, the attempted rape scene was odd but the sumo scene was much weirder.
- A Roman Candle to a Gun Fight: I love me a good fireworks display. Hell, my kid was born on the 4th of July, but you should never pull a gun out during a roman candle fight. That’s the kind of guy that you don’t invite to the party.
- A Blaze of Glory: Murakawa goes through some deep, emotional shit here. By the end of the film, you’ll feel like you’ve been on a similar journey and I know that I felt like a little bit of revenge was in order. There aren’t many people who do revenge like Takeshi Kitano so just let me tell you that one of the final scenes features a crime boss meeting and a man with an assault rifle.
The ending to Sonatine is one that I’ve grown accustomed to from watching a whole lot of East Asian films. There aren’t many movies that I’ve seen that end on a real positive note. You probably shouldn’t expect too many Yakuza or gangster movies, in general, to leave you with a really great feeling in your gut but Takeshi Kitano is a pro at making viewers uncomfortable…in a good way. Kitano movies offer a great look into a world that we normally don’t see in American films. We’ve seen plenty of movies about the Italian mafia but if you want to learn about the Japanese side of that then you need to watch some Kitano.