Has America corrupted another talent?Well, to be fair, I don’t know how truly talented Takeshi Kitano was to begin with, and his prior effort “Kikujiro” was evidence of that by itself, but his first American-made project “Brother,” is of little merit. Whether or not gangster movies are trendy in Japan, writer/editor/director/actor Takeshi Kitano (as an actor, billed as “Beat” Takeshi) is famous for his. And to be fair, his earlier films, which I might add I have not seen, such as “Sonatine,” “Hana-bi,” and “Violent Cop,” come with recommendation. Then again, the heavier end of that recommendation comes from a Hong Kong-favoring colleague of mine who also thinks Tsui Hark is a worthy director. In “Brother,” his first movie made and set outside of Japan, perhaps the biggest aberration is the fact that the majority of this story was set in Los Angeles. Playing a troubled Yakuza gangster, Takeshi is asked to leave Japan or be killed. Vying for life, he goes to stay with his younger brother in L.A., a street-punk gangster, leagues away from attaining the same sort of status of his elder frat. Unhappy with what he considers mediocrity, the Yakuza adapts and adopts his violent and illegal traditions (to mention a few) in the cinematic capitol and creates a giant gang war. There never is any permissible purpose or motivation for anything that happens in the movie, and to think that the whole excuse for the movie’s premise of having this gang war between the Japanese and blacks against other Japanese and the Mafia are only because Yamamoto (Takeshi) was unsatisfied doing nothing, is preposterous. Ennui is not a good enough reason to start a gang war, nor is a good enough reason to bother yourself with seeing this. The high bodycount is apposite to the low I.Q. that went into this.
With Omar Epps, Claude Maki, Masaya Kato and a cameo by Tatyana Ali.