A tough cop uncovers a drug ring with ties to a corrupt friend in the department leading to a bloody showdown with the gang’s hired killer.
“Beat” Tikeshi Kitano’s directorial debut is a hard-edged crime thriller featuring a protagonist that makes Dirty Harry look like Dudley Doright, which doesn’t sound particularly original but what marks Violent Cop out from the herd is its treatment of the character. Usually, “loose cannon” cops come in two categories; the misunderstood hero who is just trying to get the job done, or the corrupt bad guy looking for redemption. Azuma is neither; he’s just an arrogant bastard who does whatever he pleases with zero regard for authority, the rights of his suspects or the consequences of his actions. This makes the film oddly refreshing as the story may be rather familiar in its ideas, its bleak and nihilistic attitude – particularly during the brilliantly uncompromising finale – is strangely unique. Takeshi hasn’t quite perfected his art yet, the main flaws being that the deliberate pacing flags from time to time and the soundtrack which is so bizarrely inappropriate at times it’s almost surreal.
On the whole it’s the confident first step of a brilliant career of one the the great auteurs in modern Japanese cinema and well worth seeing for fans of the genre.