Fireworks (1998)

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An ex-cop tries to spend time with his dying wife during her final days, but a Yakuza loan shark refuses to leave him in peace.

A typically understated marriage of violence and poetry from Beat Takeshi, Hana-Bi examines loss and mortality in a deeply personal way. It shares many of the themes of Sonatine, but is not as brutally nihilistic; there is much warmth in the often wordless scenes with his wife which have far more humanity than the contrived schmaltz we are used to from most mainstream film making. Takeshi’s laconic persona is taken to the extreme in this film as he silently deals with the loss of his child, his wife’s illness and his guilt over his suicidal ex-partner’s crippling injury, although he still manages to find humour with the use of some oddball supporting characters.

In other words, another typically artful and rewarding Beat Takeshi film.

7.5/10

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