Sonatine - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Sonatine Reviews

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May 1, 2016
In "Sonatine," Takeshi Kitano mixes dark humor and gang shoot-outs to thrilling and refreshing results, but there's a disappointing lack of character development. In this world, characters need not emotional depth because they're usually violently and coldly killed off before you really get to know them, but I wish we knew a bit more about the protagonist. Regardless, if you enjoy films like "Snowpiercer" and "In Bruges," you're going to get a kick out of this one.
April 16, 2016
Eerily quiet, strikingly charming, with beautifully framed visuals and unexpected gravitas. Scored with an incredible soundtrack to boot.
½ November 11, 2015
A group of Yakuza are sent by their boss to Okinawa to help settle a dispute. They suspect there's something phony about the assignment, but they go anyway. When things go seriously wrong, they end up hiding out on a beach where they engage in a series of increasingly childish games and pranks ... until the plot is resolved in a series of violent outbursts. This is one of Kitano's best films. He stars as the leader of the Yakuza, a man so used to violence that he has almost completely withdrawn from life. The interlude at the beach seems to bring him back to life in a way that doesn't allow him to just go on as he had before. Kitano's style ... long slow periods of almost complete stillness punctuated by extremely abrupt bursts of violence ... is almost perfectly matched to this story.
August 17, 2015
Some say it's Kitano's best film, and it's not hard to see why: Rarely will you find a "yakuza film" with such daring, willing to see them as something other than gangsters in order to expose to true cost of greed.
June 20, 2015
You're dead, asshole!

A mob boss and his friends are sent into a small town to help negotiate a treaty between rival gangs. The two negotiators are quickly ambushed and will need to rely on desperate measure if they hope to evade these two gangs and return home to safety.

"Maybe you're too rich for this business."

Takeshi Kitano, director of The Blind Swordsman: Zatoichi, Outrage, Beyond Outrage, Boiling Point, Violent Cop, Dolls, and Brother, delivers Sonatine. The storyline for this picture is very interesting and unfolds fairly well. There are some awkward scenes, but some intense and well done action. The cast includes Takeshi Kitano, Aya Kokumai, and Tetsu Watanabe.

"I'd feel safe when I'm pissing."

I found this on Netflix and had to add it to my queue. I enjoyed this film for the most part. There were some awkward sequences that I felt were misguided, but the film itself is definitely worth a viewing. I probably wouldn't add it to my DVD collection.

Grade: B
½ March 23, 2015
After a fantastic opening act, the film sloshes around (albeit with some semblance of a purpose) in its stagnant motifs that often feel lazy rather than stylized, culminating in an anti-climactic climax topped off with a poetic, but unearned ending.
½ March 14, 2015
A strange and haunting metaphysical crime drama, Sonatine is a mature work from actor/director Takeshi Kitano. With slow calm scenes o nthe beach, to gory and violent shootouts, its a well written movie about one man's desire to retire, but also how cold and lifeless he has become. There are some very memorable moments in this weird crime movie.
September 10, 2014
The pace and ideas behind the film should be lauded but the execution seems slightly off to the point where your mind may wander along the lines of "Kitano is dragging this one scene out too much, while he should have left the camera to linger longer on this point instead." It's not a violent film compared to most and it relies more on French New Wave aesthetics which both help and hinder everything including the ending.
July 18, 2014
Sonatine is a brilliantly unconventional take on the Japanese Yakuza crime genre which at some point takes a trademark Kitano turn and plays out like a strikingly odd gangster holiday movie, complete with games of frisbee, Summer romance and sudden bursts of bloody violence.
April 7, 2014
AKA National Lampoon's Yakuza Vacation!
½ March 19, 2014
Takeshi Kitano is always good in everything I have seen him in. I like how he mixes the most mundane and ordinary moments in life with the stark violence of mobsters. A bit slow at times but still engaging.
January 15, 2014
My Favorite Film Is 1941's Citizen Kane.
October 15, 2013
Along with the later 'Hana-Bi', 'Sonatine' possibly marks Kitano's zenith as a master of violent yet somehow meditative gangland drama with a strong undercurrent of existentialism.
The film is gripping and uncompromising in its action, yet enjoys its most captivating, blissful moments as the gang enjoys an impromptu beach holiday. In particular, a playful battle with fireworks and a staged sumo scrap to mimic a table-top game provide the most idiosyncratic, indelible images. But, of course, you can never get too comfortable when 'Beat' Takeshi is at the helm...
½ September 22, 2013
flat but works surprisingly well with the gritty and stoic nature of the film.
September 9, 2013
slow build. slow build. slow build. credits. WTF? And whats with all the shots of people standing and waiting to get shot before getting shot? Beat movies normally aren't really my thing, but this one just feels phoned in to me/40 some mins playing on a beach?? really??
Super Reviewer
June 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.
½ April 24, 2013
Sonatine (Takeshi Kitano, 1993)

While Takeshi Kitano has worked in any number of genres over the years, when it came to directing, he started with the yakuza film. Many great Japanese directors do (Takashi Miike was getting his start directing V-cinema yakuza flicks around the same time Kitano started, for example). But in front of the camera, Kitano had already spent years as a sketch comedian. It was inevitable that eventually these two disciplines would cross in his work. It ended up not taking long at all; Sonatine, Kitano's fourth picture, blends action and absurd in such a way as to have become a favorite of many of Kitano's fans.

Aniki Murakawa (Kitano) is a Tokyo-based yakuza who runs an inept, but lucrative, gang. Their boss sends the whole crew to Okinawa on what seems to be a routine mission-but when they get there, they find out it's anything but routine and suspect they've been set up. Wounded, the gang retire to a local deserted beach to lay low, heal, and plot their revenge. On their first night there, Aniki rescues beautiful, na´ve Miyuki (Aya Kokumai in her screen debut) from an assailant, and for a time, the cares of the world slip away, and the beach hideaway becomes a world apart...but revenge is always knocking on the door.

This should be obvious, but it seems to have not been for some people: this is not a typical gangster movie, any more than the gangster movies of Kitano's idol Jean-Luc Godard were actually gangster movies. If you go into this expecting endless gunplay, you're going to hate it. The core of the film is the time the characters spend at the beach; the yakuza stuff surrounding it is a frame. (Compare and contrast to Godard's Pierrot le Fou, to which this film is an homage, or one of Miike's best efforts, The Bird People in China, which cleaves to the same theme.) It's not about action, it's about soul-searching and redemption and all that stuff that features so prominently in Kitano's comedic films (Kikujiro is an obvious choice here, and Achilles and the Tortoise is another qualifier). And if you go into it looking for THAT, you're going to get much more out of it. Personally, I think it's a wonderful thing indeed, and recommend it without hesitation, though it's not as good as Kikujiro. *** 1/2
February 23, 2013
If You Like Takeshi Kitano This Is A Must See.Straight To My Favorite List!
January 22, 2013
What happens when Yakuza hitmen take a vacation? They go crazy! Not an action film... Also, there's not a whole lot of substance either. It's about insanity, not rebirth.
Super Reviewer
½ December 26, 2012
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.

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