Life through my myopic eyes.

Hana-bi (1997) Takeshi Kitano’s Bittersweet Romance


Apart from Battle Royale (released in 2000 and directed by Kinji Fukasaku) Takeshi Kitano aka Beat Takeshi has never been better. Written, directed and edited by Beat hana-bi (translates as fireworks) is another facet of his view on crime and the penalty it exacts from its participants.

Hana-bi is a slow ballad of a film. It has a relentless rhythm from the very first frame. I have titled my review a “Bittersweet Romance” but in terms of the overall film, it really is more of a romantic tragedy. Either way you want to describe the film would fit, but I’ve always felt that romance was the ruling factor of the film.

With Beat Takeshi’s character, Nishi and his wife Myuki (Kayoko Kishimoto) their double tragedy [the death of their 5-year-old daughter and Myuki's dying from leukaemia] is not enough to defeat the obvious love that they have for one another. Their humour has managed to survive the battering that their life has taken. Late in the film, Nishi sets up a camera on the side of their car to take a timed picture. Just as the camera takes their photo another car drives in between them and it. Their laughter over the incident feels infectious and genuine.

The vast majority of the film is a mixture of flash backs and “present day” which works very well. You do have to pay attention though or you can get a bit lost. But regardless of the “to-ing and fro-ing” of the sequences the rhythm of the film is still relentless.

And relentless describes Nishi’s life perfectly. He has so many plates spinning at once that it’s easy to see why his character rarely says anything; but having said that, it is a trait of Beat Takeshi characters in almost all of his films. His taciturn and stoic face with its tics and mannerisms says more in repose than he could ever say literally.

Nishi’s boss and best friend Horibe (played by Takeshi regular Ren Ohsugi) is shot and paralysed when he does Nishi’s stake-out duty so Nishi can visit his wife in hospital. Noribe then has a difficult time dealing with life in a wheel chair and takes up art as a therapy measure.

Nishi and Horibe on the way to the stake-out.

When Nishi and two detectives catch the villain who shot Horibe, Nishi is punched repeatedly in the face and thrown off the suspect. Kudoh and Nakamura (played by another Takeshi regular Susumu Terajima) jump on the yakuza to restrain him. The yakuza then shoots both Kudoh and Nakamura. Nakamura is wounded but Kudoh dies on the scene. Nishi takes his service revolver out and shoots the yakuza in the head.

He then goes over to the dead yakuza and empties his revolver into the dead man’s head. This results in Nishi getting fired from the force. Already in debt to a local yakuza gang because of loans he took out for his wife’s hospital bills and their daughter’s death, Nishi decides to rob a bank to set everything right. He takes his dying wife on a holiday, pays for Horibe’s painting supplies and gives Kudoh’s widow a huge sum of money.

Since the pervading mood of the film is its relentless nature, we know that Nishi is going to pay dearly for his generosity and his guilt.

Most of Beat Takeshi’s films feature a lone character that doesn’t conform or sets himself away from other’s. His characters always have a nasty end or at the very least a short violent one. His message seems to be that it is alright to live to your own rules and ideals, but it will cost you in the end.

All of Takeshi’s films feature a lot of shots of the sea. Hana-bi features a lot of scenes by the sea and focuses on the waves beating against the shore or the tide coming in. This again points the film’s theme toward relentlessness and he appears to be drawing a parallel between the never-ending waves and the theme of the film.

The art that Horibe paints and draws in the film were all done by Beat Takeshi himself. Some of the most emotional scenes come from Horibe studying flowers in a shop and “seeing” the pictures that he will draw in his mind. Dogs with sunflowers for heads are just some of the funny, and odd, images he creates.

If ever any one man could be deemed an institution Takeshi Kitano is that man. The running joke in Japan’s entertainment industry is that Beat Takeshi is on television 8 days a week. Takeshi does have several television shows, writes articles for many different publications and writes, directs, and edits his own films. There seems to be no end to this man’s talent pool.

In August of 1994 Kitano was in an accident while riding his moped. The crash almost killed him and left his face partially paralysed. As part of his therapy he took up painting and poetry.  By 1995 he was back to  work full-time.

Beat Takeshi is an amazing individual who rose from humble beginnings to become an institution and an icon of Japanese culture. In the England people watch Takeshi’s Castle a Japanese game show that Beat shows up for at the end of each program to “fight off” winning contestants to keep them from winning the ultimate prize. Most of the viewers (and apparently the producers and the narrator of the show) have no idea who Takeshi is.

Hana-bi is always mentioned as the last in a trilogy that Takeshi helmed for himself. Violent Cop (1989), Sonatine (1993) and Hana-bi (1997) all feature a character who marches to the “beat” of his own drum and is more than happy to pay the price required to do so.

If I could equate Beat Takeshi’s acting style to anyone from the western world of cinema, I’d say he is the Japanese  Spencer Tracy. But that would be in the area of acting alone, I honestly don’t think there is anyone in the industry who equates 100 percent to Takeshi Kitano.

If you can stand to sit through the subtitles, watch this film. The translated title of Fireworks might be easier to find, but whatever title it’s being sold or rented as, it’s worth watching.

Takeshi Kitano aka Beat Takeshi

Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categorised in: Actors, Film Reviews, Japanese Cinema, Retro Film Reviews, World Cinema

2 Responses »

Trackbacks

  1. Zatoichi (2003): Blind Masseuse Music | MikesFilmTalk
  2. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami: Still Crazy After all These Years | MikesFilmTalk

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Goodreads

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 12,875 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 134,132 hits

Liebster Award

Liebster Award

The Versatile Blogger Award

The Versatile Blogger Award

Inspiring Blogger Award

Inspiring Blogger Award

Super Sweet Blogging Award

Super Sweet Blogging Award

lionaroundwriting

Let us make an exchange - I provide stories, you enjoy them.

Espen Stenersrød- From Pen To Heart

Jack Kerouac with a scent of Henry Vaughn

Tonya R. Moore

Bending Genres & Learning to Love Life

Journelle Frivolous

a storyteller & impolite lady

Benedict Cumberbatch

Blog for Benedict Cumberbatch fans

pgcps mess - Reform Sasscer without delay.

Fight corruption in PGCPS. Innovate, Change and Transform - Create Transparency and Accountability Initiative.

Vonj productions

Inspiration received and put forth for the good of the people

LeonnaDenisa

Hakunamatata (^o^)/

Confessions Of A Hollywood Nobody

A journey along the path most traveled.

Pulsar Passages

What you see here is "come what may".

meganelizabethmorales

You're insane? We're all insane! Bwahahahaha!

Paul Laight

Writer. Filmmaker. Semi-Pro Comedian. Wageslave

C A M S H I E

Witness The Truth: Spot Your Greatness

Prowler Needs a Jump

Films of every stripe

COURAGE TIMES THREE

A fine WordPress.com site

All Food Cooking Recipes

The Original European Cooking Recipes. All Cooking Recipes. All Continental Recipes. All Mexican Recipes. Italian Recipes.

FY HI!

A particular remarkable and usually surprising bit of information

Words n' Clouds

News told by words, news shown in clouds

Abby Mabb

Snarly female. Occasional book reviewer.

Dream, Play, Write!

Live the writing life you've imagined.

Indie Hero

Brian Marggraf, Author of Dream Brother: A Novel, Independent publishing advocate, New York City dweller

behindtheglamorsblog

This World Is Not Perfect Like You Still Imagine

Craig Lumen

Characters

Travel Magazine New Zealnd

For the Love of travel is New Zealand’s premium Travel Magazine

MLM BLASTER

Network Marketing Engineering Powered By Sankalpcs

Indo Africa Times

Reed to succeed in Africa !!!

Subterranean Cinema - Redux

the return of Don Alex

storyofthekitchn

FOOD & DRINK

Its me...pleasure!

This WordPress.com site is the bee's knees

Eat Diamonds for Breakfast

and shine all day.

YONA PHOT©

Street photography, Travel Photography, Exploration Photography

Top of the Bottom Pile

My favorite part of the bottom is the top.

RyanOnFire.com

Speaking my sports mind at an incredible rate.

Healthcare Professional Development Institute - HCPDI

Online Healthcare Training| Continuing Professional Education (CPD)| Self-paced| Open & Instant Enrollment| Certificates of Completion| Professional Certificates| Study Now|

环游K场

纵贯音乐大世界 K-Xpress

Celia Fitzgerald

"As every thread of gold is valuable, so is every moment in time." - John Mason

Closer to the Edge

"Drama is life with the dull bits cut out" Alfred Hitchcock

The Blonde on Movies

"Cinema should make you forget you are sitting in a theater." ~Roman Polanski

tonybeig

Tony Beig - Promotional Clothing 2015

Kevin Taggart

Various excerpts From My Books, Blogs, 55 Worders and other interesting bits and bobs!

Despair to Deliverance

A True Story of Triumph Over Severe Mental Illness and How You Can Triumph Too

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 12,875 other followers

%d bloggers like this: