Yamamoto (Takeshi Kitano), a yakuza gangster, is forced out of the country when a gang war all but wipes out his clan. Armed with a fake credit card, a forged passport and a bag of money, he travels to Los Angeles, where he organizes one of the most powerful criminal syndicates in the city.
Kitano's American crossover got a lot of negative to fair reviews when it came out but I feel that this is still one of his best films and definitely up there with Sonatine, Boiling Point and Violent Cop. Kitano and his usual band of cohorts Susumu Terajima, Ren Osugi, Ryo Ishibashi et al all put in good performances as usual and even the young Omar Epps does well here even with that ending.
I was not expecting much from this movie, having seen how negative the reaction to it was, but I was honestly very impressed by it. I'd say it stands right up alongside Kitano's Sonatine and Fireworks. I was fascinated by the story, the style, and the characters and their relationships. I love how Kitano stands out from every violent gangster movie director by exploring the code and drive behind these men. Underrated
Even with characters that are sometimes caricatures and some cliche street gang stuff, the charm that Kitano somehow infuses into these brutal stories ultimately won me over. It felt very much like Kitano's Japanese version of Ferrara's King of New York, except I enjoyed this one. Not a great film by any means, but Kitano's cold, detached direction and performance will draw in anyone who stays open to the film.
An over promising yet dramatically under delivering movie. The movie filled with two dimensional characters with no decent backgrounds and motivations. The script tries to build suspense through air of secrecy yet this ends up nowhere. Not really recommended unless you are a real fan of the genre or the director.
takeshi's style seems really ill-suited to an american locale and its actors. this could've been a good film, but I felt like he spent too much time trying to understand the standard american crime film and ended up creating something that seems more than a little stilted and vacuous.
Un Kitano atipico, semplice semplice. Storia lineare in uno yakuza movie sull'amicizia virile, il rispetto (e per me anche un pò sulla paternità). Godibile e leggero (per chi non si fa traumatizzare da violenza, sangue e sparatorie)
A supposed "thorn" in his vast library, I for one felt it brought his usual yakuza antics to the U.S. with a lot more success than people give it credit for. Though the ending may have felt a little stilted and untrue, the film as a whole is still rich with his pleasant, distilled scenes of characterization and his schizophrenic, hard-hitting act of violence. It's classic Kitano glossed over with a Hollywood sheen.