By: David Michael Brown on August 23, 2007  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Madman (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). Japanese DD 5.1, Japanese DD 2.0. English Subtitles. 107 minutes
The Movie
Director: Takeshi Kitano
Starring: Takeshi Kitano, Kotomi Kyono, Kayoko Kishimoto, Ren Osugi, Susumu Terajima, Tetsu Watanabe
Screenplay: Takeshi Kitano
Music: Nagi
Tagline: "500% Kitano – nothing to add"
Country: Japan
Year: 2005
Kitano Takashi made his name internationally in a series of hard-boiled cop thrillers including Sonatine, Violent Cop and Hana Bi. All were brutal, stylish directorial efforts that rode on the coat tails of the world's fascination with all things Asian following the Heroic Bloodshed films from Hong Kong. The one thing that Takashi's films had over everything else was they starred the man himself. An incredibly charismatic performer with roots in comedy, the ability to make people laugh seems to have rubbed off on his most recent efforts. Who can forget the musical numbers in his Zatoichi remake, and with Takeshis' he combines his skills to dazzling effect.

To say that Takeshis' is self-referential is an understatement. Every frame is a homage to himself or one of his movies. Somehow, however, the film manages to not be self indulgent. There is such a sense of fun that even when the plot gets a tad confusing you just run with it.

To try and simplify the plot, it involves actor Beat Takeshi, played by Kitano Takeshi, meeting a lowly check out guy called Kitano, also played by Takeshi. His multiple names do get confusing. After the meeting, Kitano, who is also an unknown actor, becomes obsessed with Takeshi and his violent gangster movie image and goes on a gun-toting rampage through a succession of surreal, hallucinatory sequences that get more bizarre every second. The only way of telling the Takeshis' apart is one has dark hair, the other a shock of beach blonde locks. To be honest anyone who knows exactly what is going on deserves a medal.

The film moves at a snappy rate; as soon as Kitano the shop-keeper begins to crack the succession of characters he meets are transformed into a mad mix of gun toting lunatics with Takeshi's gangster chic coming to the fore. Takeshi, as always, looks great with guns blazing but it's interesting to see him playing the socially inadequate like Kitano. The first time he goes to the noodle shop and is chastised by the belligerent staff you can feel the pain of the man and it's not a side of the actor we normally see. The cocksure host of Battle Royale is what we're used to. It's a big ask for Takeshi writing, acting and directing himself as two characters in a film all about his life but he just about pulls it off, and it's a measure of the ego of the man that Takeshis' is as enjoyable as it is.

Sharp and clear, the transfer is easy on the eye. Kitano Takashi's colourful fantasy world looks bright and there is little to no grain present.
The audio mix is tested to its fullest during the many gun battles at the films finale and the surround track handle the machine gun fire with aplomb.
Extra Features

A selection of trailers and an interview the great guy himself which looks into every aspect of the process that produced Takeshis'. He doesn't really explain too much of the plot so you won't come away completely enlightened, but its an entertaining guide to what make Takashi tick.

The Verdict
Takeshi has gone on record as saying that "I want audiences to come out of this film not knowing what to say or what to think." He must be very pleased with himself because he produced a confounding and confusing film that some will think a work of genius and others will think a mess. In this reviewers mind Takeshis' is a beautifully crafted, surreal roller coaster ride through a fractured mind, and it's a trip well worth taking.
Movie Score
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