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||IMDB Rating: 7.6/10 from R votes
||Release: 15 September 1994 (Netherlands) /
||Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime, Drama, Romance, Thriller
||Director: Takeshi Kitano,
||Stars: Aya Kokumai, Bob Gunter, Chris Britton, Eiji Minakata, Hôka Kinoshita, Ken'ichi Yajima, Kôta Mizumori, Masanobu Katsumura, Ren Ôsugi, Rome Kanda, Susumu Terajima, Takeshi Kitano, Tetsu Watanabe, Tonbo Zushi, Yuuki Natsusaka
||Synopsis: A world-weary yakuza in Tokyo is assigned to take his clan to Okinawa to help settle a dispute between two factions. He's suspicious of the assignment, but he goes, and within a couple days, his role remains unclear and several of men are dead. He retreats to a house on a remote beach to wait. The first night there , he rescues a young woman from an assault, and they develop a playful relationship. Over time, it becomes clear he's been set up, sent to Okinawa so that others can take over his lucrative territory. As his clan dwindles, he plans a revenge. But, what if he's successful? What is there to life anyway? Written by <[email protected]>
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Watch Sonatine - Alternative Versions.
I first wrote a review of this film here on IMDb back in June 2000. At
the time I was totally in awe of the film, the script, the acting, the
cinematography, the musical score and above all the direction from
Tekashi "Beat" Kitano.
Some 18 months on and I still love the film and is certainly one of my
top five international films. I have seen Kitano's latter films,
Hana-bi, Brother, Tokyo Eyes & Gonin, and even though production values
have improved, especially with Brother and Hana-Bi, I personally feel
that Sonatine still remains Beat's best film to date.
In retrospect one can see within the film a vision of Beat's state of
mind at the time. It is no secret that he tried to commit suicide in
real life shortly after the completion of Sonatine. With this in mind
it is easy to understand the motive within film and how it is
structured within Kitano's head.
Even though it is a film about Yakuza and gangland killings Kitano
doesn't fill every scene with a running commentary or 100mph
action-fests. Instead Sonatine is very much an avante-garde kind of
film with the "action" taking a backseat to the humdrum lives of the
Kitano is the boss of a successful Yakuza mob in central Tokyo at the
expense of its poorer rivals. As a consequence a plot is hatched to get
him and his members on a meaningless trip to Okinawa to sort out a
peace-deal between waring factions and thus leaving his "patch"
vulnerable to a take-over.
So Kitano's gang arrive in Okinawa only to find that there is no such
"deal" but instead his gang are steadily killed off leaving only
himself and 3 other gang members and an abandoned young woman, whom he
saves from a rape ordeal by her husband
They move to the coast well away from central Okinawa and wait for the
troubles to calm down before considering returning to Tokyo. During
that time they have very little to do other than play beach games, sing
songs or play Russian Roulette in order to pass the time.
But eventually even the beach hut where they live is no longer safe
from the assassin's bullet and so Kitano has no other choice but to
face his rivals once and for all in a bloody gun battle finale.
And so ends the film. It is not a happy film with no satisfying
"Hollywoodesque" ending. Far from it, the ending only illustrates the
working mind of Kitano at the time. In fact there are many examples
within the film that underlines the bleak suicidal tendencies of his
mind for real, especially the Russian Roulette scene.
It is also interesting that these gangsters think nothing of their own
lives or safety: they accept their fate as a death-wish. They have
witnessed so much death in their lives that they have lost their
morality & humanity in themselves and to other people. So it is no
surprise that during the various gun battles between rival groups
neither Kitano or his men hide behind furniture in order to avoid the
bullets. Instead they stand erect like statues firing their guns,
hoping for the best waiting to be killed by their enemy in full view.
The life of the Yakuza in the context of this film, therefore, counts
for little. They have no life, only a limited existence. There are few
highlights - such as the Sumo scene, the firework fight and even the
scene where Aya Kokumai removes her t-shirt in front of Kitano so that
she is semi-nude before him. And yet not even this makes an impression
on him. He is has become such an empty shell that even his sensual
nature has long since gone, such is the life of a Yakuza warlord.
Critics would argue that this film is too anal for its own good, that
nothing much happens and that the film is punctuated with "to camera"
shots of the main protagonists looking vacant at the audience waiting
for something to happen.
In my opinion these critics miss the point. There is a reason why they
stare back at the camera/audience. There is no sparkle in their eyes,
no smile playing on their lips, no supple skin tone, no positive body
language to tell us that these people are really happy. Instead, we see
nothing but ghosts, empty husks of humanity awaiting their fate with
the silver bullet; they look at us as if they are pleading with us to
put them out of their sad existence. They may have guns, the money, the
power but they are not happy, they are not content, they are not you
Sonatine remains one of the most influential films ever to come out of
Japan. So impressed was I with this film that I created this IMDb login
in honour of its majesty. Yes, it maybe seen as a sad act to name a
login after a film but for me Tekeshi Kitano has yet to direct a better
film and Sonatine will haunt me for all sorts of reasons for years to
come, especially the excellent score from Joe Hisaishi.
Tags for Sonatine Full Movie
, Bob Gunter
, Chris Britton
, Eiji Minakata
, Hôka Kinoshita
, Ken'ichi Yajima
, Kôta Mizumori
, Masanobu Katsumura
, Ren Ôsugi
, Rome Kanda
, Susumu Terajima
, Takeshi Kitano
, Tetsu Watanabe
, Tonbo Zushi
, Yuuki Natsusaka
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