Review by Gordon Justesen
Stars: Beat Takeshi, Omar
Epps, Claude Maki
Director: Takeshi Kitano
Audio: English/Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Subtitles: English, Spanish, & French
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 113 Minutes
Release Date: January 2, 2002
Brother is a somewhat intriguing exercise in the
staging of high-powered sequences of violence and bloodbath shootouts. Iíve
hardly ever come across a movie that illustrates a certain body count level with
a certain touch of art before. One such scene in the movie is that of a shootout
aftermath, where all of the dead bodies are laying next to one another,
resulting in the formation of the Japanese symbol for ďdeathĒ. Takeshi
Kitano, a celebrated master of action films in Japan and like many filmmakers
from that country, has attempted to bring his unique form of moviemaking to the
states with this film. While I was very much dazzled by the filmís excessive
gunplay and execution scenes, the movie surrounding it was one that frankly,
left me a little dazed and confused.
The movie is told, from what I can tell, much in the style
of an old Sergio Leone western, as the main character, Yamamoto, portrayed by
Kitano under the name Beat Takeshi, arrives in Los Angeles. He is there to elude
the gang war that has gone against him in Japan. He is also there to meet up
with his half-brother, Ken (Claude Miki), and his drug ring that also includes
the hotheaded hustler Denny (Omar Epps). Yamamotoís first encounter in LA is
with Denny who, not knowing who he really is, threatens to mug him, and gets a
glass bottle to the eye in return. Itís somewhat amusing to note that the
incident is never referred to again, and that the two are quickly thereafter
Thatís basically all I can summarize of the story, not
because I wish to give anything, but because thatís basically all there is to
it. The rest of the movie consists of prolonged scenes of drug lords and gang
members torturing enemies in the most extreme ways. You could say that the rest
of the plot pretty much consists of almost every single remaining character
getting knocked off, right up until the last man is left standing. Not every
central character is killed in the end, but it sure feels that way.
Brother is a triumph of violent action but certainly
not of story. This was my first experience with Takeshi Kitano, and I can
certainly say that he has the edge for action moviemaking, but I can certainly
state that heís nowhere near the level of John Woo, whose movies have the same
amount of action, but also contain richly involving tales, something which Brother
canít be classified as.
One final footnote, the movie is spoken in both English and
Japanese, a rare occasion. So you might want to leave your subtitles on
throughout the movie.
A nice, moderate effort from Columbia Tri Star on the video
job. The picture on Brother is mostly clear and sharp, and enhances the
style which the action scenes carry. The only flaw in the presentation is a few
scenes of softness and graininess in a couple of scenes both early and late in
the film. Overall, a very acceptable viewing.
For a movie that contains a plentiful amount of shooting and action, Columbia Tri Star certainly did their homework for this audio track. Like youíd expect from an action movie, the sound is consistently sharp and filled with tense, booming quality in the 5.1 digital presentation.
Just three bonus trailers for three other CTS releases; Time
and Tide, Gen-X Cops, and Love and a Bullet.