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By Tom Meek | April 20, 1998

Languorous but highly compelling tale about an aging yakuza who flirts with the notion of retirement as he gets dragged into one last showdown. The action centers around a platoon of Tokyo based gangsters who get ordered by their boss to resolve a turf war between two rival gangs in Okinawa. As the yakuza enforcer caught in the middle, Takeshi Kitano is a mesmerizing and remarkably humanistic angel of death — sort of like a young Charles Bronson. His accomplishments on screen become even more arresting when one considers that Kitano was once a stand up comedian and is also the film’s writer/director. Earlier this year Kitano treated us to a similarly complex crime drama, “Fireworks,” but “Sonatine” (which was made in 1994) is a darker, deeper, more polished work.

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