Takeshi Kitano's "Hana-bi" aka. "Fireworks" of 1997 is a sad, funny, violent, melancholic, brilliant film, an absolute masterpiece which is, in my opinion, one of the best movies of the 90s. Hardly ever have I seen a movie which is this memorable and unique in both its tragic and its funny moments, as it is the case with this ingenious work of art. I am a big fan of director Takeshi Kitano, who also stars in the leading part (as 'Beat' Takeshi) in this, and "Hana-bi" is my personal favorite of his movies. Yoshitaka Nishi (Kitano) is a mostly calm, but occasionally irascible and ultra-violent cop, whose wife Miyuki (Kayoko Kishimoto) is terminally ill of leukemia. After his partner Horibe (Ren Osugi) is wounded, and another police officer is killed, Nishi decides to quit his job at the police and spend more time with his dying wife. In order to help Horibe, who is now in a wheelchair, and the dead police officer's widow, and in order to make the remaining time as comfortable as possible for his wife, Nishi, who also owes money to the Yakuza, needs money and he is determined to acquire it. There is no doubt in my mind that Takeshi Kitano is an absolute genius, which he has proved by writing and directing this masterpiece. But not only is Kitano a genius as a writer and director, his acting performance in "Hana-Bi" is also uniquely superb and one of a kind. Nobody else could have played the role of Nishi with such brilliance as 'Bito' Takeshi Kitano, who rarely says a word in the first half of the film and is (nevertheless or therefore) absolutely impressive in his role of the cop with the constant poker face, which typical for Kitano. By the way, the impressionist and very original pictures which are shown occasionally throughout the movie were also painted by Kitano himself. The rest of the acting is also great, Ren Osugi delivers a particularly memorable performance as Horibe, Nishi's partner who is struck by fate and has to live in a wheel chair, and Kayoko Kishimoto is great in the lovable role of Nishi's dying wife. An absolute genius as a writer, director and actor, Takeshi Kitano is without doubt one of the greatest cinematic multi-talents alive, as far as I am concerned he is one of the greatest cinematic multi-talents who have ever lived. "Hana-bi" is arguably his greatest film.
Nishi leaves the police in the face of harrowing personal and professional difficulties. Spiraling into depression, he makes questionable decisions.
April 25, 2020