Sonatine (1998)

sonatine

A prosperous Yakuza is sent to settle a gang war between rival factions but when the violence escalates he begins to suspect that the whole situation is a set up designed to steal his turf.

Sonatine is the film where Beat Takeshi perfected his trademark style of laconic, offbeat characters embroiled within a world of violence that is streaked with his blackest of the black sense of humour. It’s probably one of the most laid back gangster films you will ever see, as despite the sporadic bursts of dramatic and extreme violence much of the film is spent with the off duty gangsters while they are bored and bonding on a sleepy beach front. In fact, the lack of glamorisation of the bloodshed and the unsentimental approach to the characters and their relationships make this pretty much the antithesis of the likes of John Woo and his ilk. Kitano instead prefers to show the ugliness of their lives in contrast to the unlikely friendships that are the result leading up to an affecting and unforgettable climax.

Embellished by a soundtrack that is understated and sparse yet strangely beautiful – a perfect reflection of the film itself – Sonatine is a true original.

8.5/10

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