Set during Japan's Shogun era, this film looks at life in a samurai compound where young warriors are trained in swordfighting. A number of interpersonal conflicts are brewing in the ... See full summary »
Detective Azuma is a Dirty-Harry style rogue cop who often uses violence and unethical methods to get results. While investigating a series of drug-related homicides, Azuma discovers that his friend and colleague, Iwaki, is supplying drugs from within the police force. After Iwaki is murdered and Azuma's sister is kidnapped, he breaks all the rules to dish out his particular form of justice. Written by
Todd K. Bowman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Kitano insisted on long takes. Close-ups easily lasted 10 seconds, medium shots went on for 20 seconds and the shot where Azuma (Kitano) walks onto the bridge and into the frame lasted 57 seconds. See more »
I think it's about a law enforcement official who utilizes violence
This is one of those movies I had to see as soon as I saw the title. Come on. VIOLENT COP. No fartin' around and making us wonder what it's about, like Sonatine or Hana-Bi (Fireworks).
It's easy to assume this was some Japanese Dirty Harry knockoff, but it's more flawed and interesting than that. There is a certain nihilism in its disconcerting juxtaposition of oddball comedy and pitch-black neo-noir. It'll make your head spin how suddenly it swan-dives into really uncomfortable rape & revenge territory, and then bounces back into something that's supposed to be... quirky...? I guess? Whatever the case, you need to realize you're getting into serious auteur territory here.
Kitano's a very idiosyncratic director, and his quirks were in full swing even this early on in his career. His approach is one of obsessive stillness, silence and poignancy occasionally punctuated by jarring bursts of violence. I'd be hard-pressed to name a director who glamorizes violence any less; it's downright ugly and scary, despite the constant winks that let you know not to take any of it too seriously. For all the grit and nihilism though, there is a strangely dreamy, impressionistic undercurrent beneath it all that's basically humanistic. The intentionally awkward, plodding car chase through some busy alleys midway through the film is of particular note, and ranks among the few chase scenes that have ever really amused or gripped me in a movie.
It's weird to me how Kitano always casted himself as a ruthless jerk. He's a stout, personable little guy with the face of a teddy bear. Overcompensating or something? Here he is of course the no BS rulebreaker cop; he beats some punk kid who attacks an old man; he witnesses a domestic dispute in the police department, and lays the boyfriend out (being male, of course, he was at fault). etc. As other reviewers have noted, he has no real character arc, which isn't helped by Kitano's autistically fixed half-smile-going-on-frown; he is only humanized somewhat by his ambiguously mentally ill sister.
As a result, the point of the film is a tad mysterious. It's a tonally interesting little ride with a slight art-house slant, but its message could be written on the head of a pin. I always got the feeling Kitano never really knew quite what he was doing (often with very moving, creative results, mind you) and the critics read into things too much, and Violent Cop supports that hypothesis. However, it's probably one of his best films because in many ways it just is what it is, and doesn't bite off more than it can chew.
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