Bomb Rating: 

What does Takeshi beat exactly? I'm writing, of course, about Japan's Beat Takeshi, otherwise known as Takeshi Kitano, who makes one film after another celebrating the lines in his own face. As far as I can tell, the guy is more in love with himself than Paul Reubens in an adult theater.

This is Kitano's first "American" film, which means that there's some English in it. Kitano plays a displaced Yakuza who comes to America and hooks up with his younger brother and friends (including Omar Epps). The guys deal drugs on the corner. When Aki (Takeshi) shows up, they go from small-time drug dealers to powerful gangsters as Aki murders every opposing small-timer in sight. However, things spiral out of Aki's control and eventually the boys, and some hoods they've picked up along the way, get into it with the Mafia and find themselves quite suddenly on the wrong end of the violence. Even Aki realizes you don't mess around with the Italian Mafia.

The way this film basically works (as do Kitano's films in general), is that there will be some long, slow scene involving many close-ups of Kitano's face, followed by an abrupt spree of action. In this case, Aki usually pulls out a gun and shoots somebody. What all this means is anybody's guess, but it's pretty clear that Aki has no interest in staying alive once his ties to his Yakuza brothers are severed.

Takeshi Kitano is a revered filmmaking figure. Why, I do not know. There's nothing in this film of importance. There's no plumbing Kitano's character because he hardly says a word, and any general insight is already obvious. He doesn't teach us anything. We learn nothing about him or his friends, and the film doesn't add anything significant to the genre of gangster pictures. Maybe they should call this guy Pointless Kitano instead.

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