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Japan, 1991 (MIFF 1998, Regional Features)

Director: Takeshi Kitano

Police detective Nishi (Takeshi) ditches stakeout duty with his partner and best friend Horibe to visit his wife in hospital. During the visit he is informed that his wife's condition is incurable and terminal. Distraught and overwhelmed by the news, Nishi's world is completely shattered when news arrives that Horibe has been shot.

Events go from bad to worse. Now paralysed, confined to a wheelchair and without an income, Horibe is devastated when his wife leaves him, taking their only child. Nishi's wife has been discharged to spend her remaining days at home, her husband still wrestling with the guilt.

Nishi attempts to pull together the tragic strands of his life, absolve himself and minister to his loved ones firstly by borrowing money from disreputable Yakuza loansharks and then by pulling off an elaborate bank heist dressed in full police uniform.

Takeshi takes the lead role as the taciturn but stoic Nishi. Together with uniformly magnificent performances from the rest of his cast, a beautiful script that is a startling and successful mixture of tones and emotions and unerringly fabulous photography earned Hana-bi the grand prize at the Venice Film Festival and packed houses at London, Toronto, Rotterdam and Vancouver.

"This is not just a simple love story about a married couple... I wanted to portray life and death subjectively through the characters who took on life and death without escaping from them as they were confronted with cruel realities, when unexpected events suddenly befell them." - Takeshi Kitano

Nishi's determination to provide the expensive materials required for Horibe to take up painting and make his wife's final days as comfortable as possible propels the final reels of Hana-bi. Takeshi's ability to plumb emotion without venturing into the saccharin is legendary amongst his fans, as his ability to portray violence in a traditionally poetic Japanese fashion. With his Yakuza creditors and former friends on the force closing in, Nishi must face yet another trial of torment...

See also...


Japan, 2004
Blood and Bones centres on Kim Sun-pei, a Korean migrant attempting to build a fortune in Japan. Contrary to his hopes, the Japan he encounters is a brutal world of discrimination and hard labour. Re… More »


Japan, 2005
Legendary Japanese director, actor and hardman, Kitano ‘Beat' Takeshi, puts the ‘gang' back into ‘doppelganger' with this hyper-real violation of the traditional rules of film form and biograph… More »


France, 2008
“I love the Yakuza… I see them as the heirs to the samurai spirit.” - actor Sonny Chiba ... Literally translated as ‘good-for-nothing', Japan's criminal brotherhood - the Yakuza - underw… More »


Japan, 1989
... ... Takeshi makes his directorial debut in what on the surface at least is a standard 'rene­gade cop' genre film. Takeshi plays Detective Azuma, the department's 'wild-card' whose unorthodox … More »


Japan, 1990
... ... In Japan, Takeshi Kitano currently advertises a product called 'Jolt Cola'. Aside from his endorsement, the selling point is that it boasts twice the caffeine of regular colas. For once, star… More »

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