Once upon a time in Japan
17 February 2018
Blood and Bone might as well be called 'Once Upon A Time In Japan' for the strong resemblance it bears to Sergio Leone's epic account of the immigrant experience in post-war America. The immigrants in Yoichi Sai's unrelentingly violent film are Korean, displaced there after the Japanese occupation, the country and any national identity further destabilised after Japan's defeat in the war. Arriving in Osaka in 1923, Kim Shunpei is determined to make a better life for himself, and when he returns from the war sets up a fish-cake factory, expanding later into the loan shark business. His explosively violent temperament however means that he leaves behind him a trail of death and destruction that doesn't even spare his family.

Well-known for violence in his own gangster movies, 'Beat' Takeshi Kitano takes brutality to monstrous proportions in a performance of remarkable and terrifying intensity, but you could tire very quickly of him punching women in a yet another appalling rampage. In some ways however Kitano is just too big a personality, even for such an epic film, overshadowing any finer points it might have made about the Korean-Japanese experience.
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