Brash, loudmouthed and opportunistic, Kikujiro hardly seems the ideal companion for little Masao who is determined to travel long distances to see the mother he has never met. Their excursion to the cycle races is the first of a series of adventures for the unlikely pair which soon turns out to be a whimsical journey of laughter and tears with a wide array of surprises and odd ball characters to meet along the way.Written by
L.H. Wong <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Western audiences basically only know Beat Takeshi for his tough guy persona. Japanese audiences have seen many sides to him for a long time, and probably regard him as a comedian more than anything else. Maybe this is the reason why 'Kikujiro' isn't all that well known. Takeshi wrote and directed this movie as a follow up to his most celebrated work 'Hana-bi', but as it isn't a yakuza crime drama, it seems to have been largely overlooked. And that's a damn shame, because it's a very good movie, and anyone who enjoys Kitano's work will enjoy it. On paper the plot looks very Disney-like (grumpy old coot hits the road with an unhappy kid), but hey, this is Beat Takeshi, so what he does with it is always original and surprising. Much of the movie is playful, but then much of 'Sonatine' was too, only 'Kikujiro' doesn't mix that up with the orgy of violence you might expect from watching Kitano's better known movies. However it does have some dark moments that you would NEVER see in a Hollywood film dealing with similar "heart warming" subject matter, especially the "scary man" sequence featuring Akaji Maro, an actor you might recognise from Tarantino's 'Kill Bill'. I enjoyed 'Kikujiro' a lot, and the more Kitano movies I see, the more I think he is one of the most underrated directors working today.
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