Nishi is a cop whose wife is slowly dying of leukemia. One of his partners gets shot on the job, which results in him being confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life and becoming suicidal. Nishi, feeling guilty of his partner's accident, tries to help him in any way he can. At the same time, Nishi leaves the police to spend more time with his dying wife. However, in order to do the right things for those he loves, Nishi must do something wrong, which has tragic consequences. Written by
'Hana-bi' is one of the most impressive movies I've seen in the last ten years. Writer/director/star Beat Takeshi (Takeshi Kitano) is best known in Japan as a comedian and TV personality, so this movie is even more astonishing to outsiders like myself. Takeshi has a very laconic and charismatic screen presence, and is no slouch as a director either. It's difficult to describe the feel of this movie, and its poetic use of violence. Peckinpah's brilliant and misunderstood 'Bring Me The Head Of Alfredo Garcia' comes to mind, as does Cassavetes' 'The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie', Ferrara's 'King Of New York' and 'Bad Lieutenant'. 'Hana-bi' reminds me of those movies but Takeshi adds his own unique voice to the material. I was knocked out by it, and I cannot recommend it highly enough to movie fans who are fascinated by the relationship between art and violence. I don't think calling this movie a masterpiece is an exaggeration. Absolutely essential viewing!
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