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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Fireworks
Fireworks
New York Entertainment // Unrated // June 27, 2000
List Price: $29.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by G. Noel Gross | posted February 4, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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CineSchlock-O-Rama

First known in Japan as a comedian and television personality, Takeshi Kitano, is now an internationally respected filmmaker with a knack for turning gritty crime dramas on their ear. He began in 1989 with Violent Cop and the bodies kept falling through Boiling Point and Sonatine. Now, "Beat" Takeshi writes, directs and stars in his latest reinvention of the gangster-film genre, Fireworks (1997, 103 minutes).

The movie: Detective Nishi (Kitano) is a silent man, a broken cop. While Nishi is away, by the side of his terminally ill wife, his partner is ruthlessly gunned down during a stakeout. The wounds leave his partner confined to a wheelchair and without the continued will to live. Nishi blames himself for not being there, and stoically determines to kill the punk responsible. And in the flick's most brutal scene, he does -- and then some -- emptying his service revolver into the kid's head. But there is no relief as ANOTHER officer is killed in this encounter, which Nishi also accepts blame. He quits the force to attend to his wife, his fallen comrade, and somehow manages to become indebted to gangster loansharks. It's how he chooses to deal with all these life crises that makes the story powerful -- both grim and hopeful -- explosive and tranquil.

Notables: No breasts. Nine corpses. Chopsticks to the eye socket. Rock skipping. Bank robbery. Gratuitous card trick scene. Vase to the brainpan. Multiple beatings.

Quotables: Nothing too amusing in the subtitles.

Time codes: Two guys in crazy wooden shoes play catch (5:17). Breath-taking gun fight in a shopping mall (33:00). Nishi doesn't like high-interest loans (1:23:30).

Audio/Video: Presented in its original widescreen (1.85:1) format. The print is clean, but there is a subtle flaw, as weird digital blurring sometimes occurs as actors move through scenes. Nice Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track -- however the film's strength is its LACK of sound during intensely violent scenes. In Japanese with English subtitles.

Extras: The scene selections are divided into five categories, each with an available interview segment with Kitano. All of the artwork featured in the film was created by the director, who discovered his talent while recovering from a devastating motorcycle accident, and the disc features a gallery of these works with their corresponding scenes and notes by Kitano. Behind-the-scenes featurette that stands in stark contrast to the flick's tone -- it's so strange to see the cast and crew laughing and having such a good time. Both the Japanese and American trailers.

Final thought: The art-house crowd's answer to a Chuck Bronson vengeance picture. Brutal AND sensitive -- maybe too introspective for some. Recommended.

Check out CineSchlock-O-Rama
for additional reviews and bonus features.

G. Noel Gross is a Dallas graphic designer and avowed Drive-In Mutant who specializes in scribbling B-movie reviews. Noel is inspired by Joe Bob Briggs and his gospel of blood, breasts and beasts.

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