Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 26th, 2010
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 2000
Director: Takeshi Kitano
Writer: Takeshi Kitano
Cast: Takeshi Kitano, Omar Epps, Kurôdo Maki, Masaya Katô, Susumu Terajima, Royale Watkins, Lombardo Boyar, Ren Ohsugi, Ryo Ishibashi, James Shigeta, Tatyana Ali
DVD released: October 4th, 2010
Approximate running time: 109 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1:85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Stereo Japanese / English
DVD Release: Second Sight
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £15.99
Synopsis: After a gang war wipes out his clan. A Yakuza gangster who has been exiled from Japan. He goes to Los Angeles to stay with his younger brother. Shortly after his arrival, he returns to his old ways and puts together a criminal syndicate that quickly eliminates competition. Not willing to compromises, his refusal to give the Mafia a piece of the action leads to his downfall.
Brother was written and directed by Takeshi Kitano, who’s other notable film’s as a director include Violent Cop, A Scene at the Scene, Sonatine and Fireworks. In many ways Brother can be seen as Takeshi Kitano’s farewell to the gangster / crime films that made him an international star. Content wise Brother features many of his trademark cinematic touches like a protagonist who says very little, moments of clam followed by sudden bursts of violence and a story rooted in loyalty.
At the core of Brother is story about an ageing Yakuza gangster named Aniki Yamamoto, who is forced to leave Japan when his boss is murder by a rival Yakuza clan. Shortly after his arrival in Los Angeles he proves that old habits are hard to break. When he assaults a young man with a broken wine bottle. After this scene is quickly becomes apparent that Aniki is not content with just blending in. And it is unwillingness to change that puts him on a collision course with his destiny.
Even though the operatic violent set pieces play an integral part in the evolution of the story at hand. It is the characters which populate this film and their relationships which make this film utterly compelling. Another area where this film excels are the performances from the entire cast, especially Takeshi Kitano (Boiling Point) and Omar Epps (Higher Learning), who is cast in the role of Denny the character who forges the strongest bond with the Aniki character. The scenes in which Kitano and Epps characters interact is easily the most compelling moments in the film.
Note: the disc sent for this review only included the film and it may not be representative of the final product.
Park Circus presents Brother in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original aspect ratio. The image looks crisp, colors are nicely saturated and black levels fare well.
This release comes with one audio option, a Dolby Digital stereo mix. The soundtrack features dialog in Japanese (English subtitles are provided for the Japanese dialog) and English. The audio sounds clear, balanced and robust during the shootout scenes.
The only extra included with the screener copy that I was sent for this review is a trailer for the film. The other extras that are advertise and not included as part of the screener copy I was sent are as follows a ‘Making of’ featurette, cast & crew interviews and a photo gallery.