Sonatine

Critics Consensus

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88%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 25

89%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,323
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Movie Info

Takeshi Kitano wrote, directed and stars in this 1993 Japanese film, an urban thriller that centers on world-weary gangster Murakawa (Kitano). Instructed by his boss to settle a dispute in Okinawa, Murakawa soon finds himself caught in the middle of a yakuza gang war. Ritualistic gunplay, however, gives way to a seaside interlude of gangsters at the beach -- as a sudden switch transforms the approach from splatter action to arthouse film. Praised by Sight and Sound ("exquisite gangster film") and selected by Quentin Tarantino for distribution through his Rolling Thunder company.

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Critic Reviews for Sonatine

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (6)

Audience Reviews for Sonatine

  • Jun 29, 2013
    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.
    Cameron S Super Reviewer
  • Jul 23, 2012
    Right up there with Hana-bi as far as Kitano's existential, oneiric modern-day yakuza flicks go. While Hana-bi was more linear, this film's greatest moments are not concerned with the plot at all. Those playful sequences on the beach are almost more surprising to see than any of the sudden violence that occurs in the film. A smart and stylish flick that offers many interesting characters apart from the lead (played by Kitano himself). The fireworks fight is one of the best things ever put on film.
    G S Super Reviewer
  • Feb 07, 2012
    Not a lot to say, just a really good and different type of gangster movie. Violence is used when it's absolutely needed and not used gratuitously. It won't blow you away by today's standards, but it's still a really good movie to watch.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Dec 02, 2009
    Superb. 1993 was the year in which Kitano consolidated his style and was finally capable of transforming violence into art, and guns into dance moves. Amazing cinematography, a bizarre score, wonderful landscapes and black humor are the ingredients of the Japanese father of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance. 91/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer

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