Friday, 6 January 2012

Hana-bi (Fireworks) [1997]


Takeshi Kitano, aka “Beat” Takeshi through his involvement with Japanese television, didn’t just direct, but also wrote, edited and played the role of the lead protagonist in the movie Hana-bi – often considered his best work. Poetic, minimalist and stylish – the movie managed a unique concoction of energetic action sequences, with a near detached tone and deliberate pacing (punctuated at regular intervals by the former). Nishi, played by Takeshi, is a former policeman whose life has taken a southward trajectory – his wife is slowly dying of cancer, his daughter was murdered, his partner is wheelchair-bound, and he’s being constantly hounded by the ‘yakuza’ for having borrowed a large sum of money. The laconic and emotionally aloof cop robs a bank on his own in order to pay off his debts and take his ailing wife for one last trip. But the loan sharks won’t leave him alone, and since he is the kind of guy who prefers thrashing the other side with nerve-racking violence as opposed to pleading his case out, skirmishes break out regularly between the two sides which are bound to end on a bad note for both. Takeshi made the role his own purely through projecting the character’s outwardly detachment, impassivity, and increasing neurosis (which is taking over his behaviour at an alarming pace), despite spending most of the movie’s duration in silence. This is not an easy film to appreciate though, because of the rambling plot, the leisurely pacing, the hyperstylized narrative and the ambiguous tone – but these are essentially the facets that have made it a compelling film.








Director: Takeshi Kitano
Genre: Crime Drama/Road Movie/Existentialist Drama
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan

5 comments:

Damon said...

A good effort from Kitano, but Sonatine is his best work!

Samuel Wilson said...

Well, I'll vote for Hana-bi, which for me captures uniquely the yearning of a violent man for some sort of serenity or transcendence without sewing a heart on his sleeve.Brilliant stuff.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Damon.

Shubhajit said...

Thanks Samuel for the acknowledgement. That said, I'm no expert on Kitano's filmography, so I was essentially going by popular perception.

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