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Archive for February 20th, 2012

Hana-bi (1997)

After a stakeout in which his friend and colleague Detective Horibe is paralysed from the waist down by a gunman and another officer is killed, Detective Nishi quits the police force to look after his terminally ill wife. Racked by guilt over his what has happened to his ex-colleagues and trying to make whatever time his wife has got left in being alive to be more comfortable, Nishi borrows some money from the yakuza. When they come calling for the money back with added interest, Nishi is forced to make some questionable decisions like robbing a bank to pay them back and in order to take one final trip with his wife. The yakuza still aren’t satisfied with the money they’ve been given and send more of their gang to track down Nishi and the young cops who have replaced him and Horibe on the force are also on his tail.

This is a compelling, powerful tragic tale by Takeshi Kitano. He plays the lead role Nishi who is weak, broken and tired. It’s a dark look on a man with a life in ruins. Haunted by what has happened in the past but still possessing a violent streak when necessary in order to survive. Although Takesahi Kitano is excellent in his role as Nishi, a big thumbs up also has to be given to Ren Osugi who delivers a particularly memorable performance as Horibe, Nishi’s partner who is struck by fate and has to live in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. Abandoned by his wife and children and trying to commit suicide in order to escape his lonely life. If you’ve seen Kitano’s movies before, you’ll have an idea what’s in store. He mixes stunning imagery, a beautiful score and moving performances in Hana-bi to create a stunning movie. The violence when on show is short but brutal – a typical trademark of his. His directing is superb and the supporting cast is first rate.

Han-bi is a sad, funny, violent and melancholic movie with an absolutely blinding performance by Takeshi Kitano. Kitano fans will tell you that this is probably his finest movie to date and I for one am not going to argue on that case.

Sadako’s Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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