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Sonatine

Sonatine (1993)

tomatometer

67

Average Rating: 6.4/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 2

No consensus yet.

audience

89

liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 8,113

My Rating

Movie Info

Acclaimed Japanese filmmaker, comedian, television star, author, and all-around renaissance man Takeshi "Beat" Kitano stars in this unconventional take on the crime drama. Kitano portrays Murakawa, a successful Yakuza officer who has grown weary of the violent life, so much so that he has even considered retirement. Thus, he is not pleased when he is asked to lead a team to help defuse a gang war in Okinawa but agrees when he is assured it will be an easy job. It proves anything but, however,

Jan 13, 2004

Miramax

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All Critics (31) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (22) | Rotten (3) | DVD (6)

Sleek, punchy and altogether captivating.

February 14, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Gross and trite as the material is, Kitano shows again that he is an ingenious, purposeful filmmaker.

January 1, 2000
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It shows how violent gangster movies need not be filled with stupid dialogue, nonstop action and gratuitous gore.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Kitano's haunting elegy to the gangster way of life.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Eliminates the one virtue American action films can legitimately claim -- vitality -- and replaces it with fake- existential claptrap wrapped in an inept narrative.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Comments (4)
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[VIDEO] "Sonatine" is a lyrical picture of Japan's poker face toward the outrageous violence of its mob culture.

October 17, 2011 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

bold and ballsy

September 3, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinema Writer
Cinema Writer

This film resurrected the yakusa genre? It is amazing it didn't put it to sleep for good.

February 9, 2005 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope | Comments (5)
Laramie Movie Scope

Haunting look at doomed yakuza gangster

May 20, 2004
Film Journal International

A different kind of action movie.

February 28, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

The quirky humor gives what could easily be a tired story an unusual air of freshness and humanity.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: TheMovieReport.com
TheMovieReport.com

One of the most valuable facets of Kitano's film is its exposure of the gangster ideal as the myth of little boys who forgot to grow up.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Compare the journey taken by Kitano's character to the 'character arc' on exhibit in a typical American action film.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus
Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus

The great images presented on the screen -- not the acting, nor the story line, are what make this film work best.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

When the action comes, it comes in short, precise bursts. It's not exciting. It's not intended to be.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: AboutFilm.com
AboutFilm.com

The look of the film is sometimes dreamy, sometimes crisp, but always engrossing.

January 1, 2000
Jam! Movies

Kitano is a mesmerizing and remarkably humanistic angel of death.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: E! Online
E! Online

Audience Reviews for Sonatine

Good, but I think Kitano's work got even better.
November 4, 2007
brooklynspo

Super Reviewer

Shortly after completing his fourth feature length directorial outing 'Sonatine' auteur Takeshi "Beat" Kitano had a self proclaimed "unconscious suicide attempt" when he drunkenly crashed his motorcycle in August 1994. After the accident it became common speculation that Kitano's depression was the catalyst for the brooding nihilistic nature of his first four films and that 'Sonatine' was a reflection of his emotional state whilst making them.

The film follows Murukawa (played by Kitano himself) a Tokyo situated yakuza who is sent to Okinawa in order to settle a dispute between two different gang factions. Upon his arrival Murakawa realises that his presence isn't needed and, he, along with his gang, move to the beach to relive their adolescent happiness.

In a cinematic sense 'Sonatine' is very similar to Kitano's earlier features; once again he adopts a minimalistic existential atmosphere and intertwines moments of surreal dream like beauty with harsh, unforgiving violence. Murukawa's obvious suicidal tendencies (established by a game of Russian roulette) are juxtaposed throughout the film by his childlike sense of humour and his quietly caring nature, in this sense Murukawa is elevated against Kitano's similar earlier characters resulting in a deeper feeling of gravitas.

Musically Kitano once again returns to Joe Hisashi (most famous for his work with Studio Ghibli), who weaves an emotive score that compliments the film's beautiful imagery and thematics without being overly manipulative or relied upon.

Overall 'Sonatine' is a moving character study about reservedness in Japanese culture and the impermanence of innocence, the film's poignant finale is arguably Kitano's most powerful to date and will stick with you long after the credits finish rolling. A true materpiece.
June 29, 2013
Cameron Sherwell

Super Reviewer

A prosperous Yakuza is sent by his boss to settle a gang war between rival factions but when the violence escalates he begins to suspect that the whole situation is a set up designed to steal his turf. Sonatine is the film where Beat Takeshi began to perfect his trademark style of laconic, offbeat characters embroiled within a world of violence that is streaked with his blackest of the black sense of humour. It's probably one of the most laidback gangster films you will ever see, as despite the sporadic bursts of dramatic and extreme violence much of the film is spent with the off duty gangsters while they are bored and bonding on a sleepy beach front. In fact, the lack of glamorisation of the bloodshed and the unsentimental approach to the characters and their relationships make this pretty much the antithesis of the likes of John Woo and his ilk. Kitano instead prefers to show the ugliness of their lives in contrast to the unlikely friendships that are the result leading up to an affecting and unforgettable climax. Embellished by a soundtrack that is understated and sparse yet strangely beautiful - a perfect reflection of the film itself - Sonatine is a true original.
December 14, 2011
garyX
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Violence and beauty go hand in hand in kitano's masterpiece! Brilliant!
September 4, 2009
SirPant

Super Reviewer

    1. Murakawa: Indecent exposure is fun!
    – Submitted by Joshua G (22 months ago)
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