Movie Review: Violent Cop (1989)
Violent Cop (1989)
Director: Takeshi Kitano
Cast: Takeshi Kitano, Maiko Kawakami, Makoto Ashikawa
Synopsis: A cop who is prone to bouts of violence discovers corruption in his department.
Violent Cop, the directorial debut from Beat Takeshi (To Each His Own Cinema), has the kind of plot that Hollywood has been making forever: an unconventional, monosyllabic cop saddled with an inexperienced partner as he uncovers corruption in the highest ranks of the police department. However, Takeshi manages to keep it interesting, despite a near-somnambulist style.
He plays Azuma, a weathered cop who seems weighed down by all that he has seen and experienced. Azuma trudges when he walks, he rarely smiles, and mumbles his words like a shy kid. But there’s an underlying level of brutality that is at odds with the defeated exterior and that initially fools those who cross his path into believing that he isn’t much of an obstacle to their plans. The action, when it comes, is by turns explosive and understated. There’s a violent fight sequence followed by a long chase sequence, marred only by some confusing editing, which is played out against a laid-back music track. A Hollywood movie would have something loud and fast-paced to pump up the audience’s adrenaline, but Takeshi does the opposite – and surprisingly it works, although it’s near-impossible to explain why. There are also innumerable moments of silence – similar to those in Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns but without the atmospheric music – in which the camera rests on a character’s face, inviting us to reflect on what that character is thinking.
As with many Asian crime movies, Violent Cop is very slick whilst somewhat nihilistic in outlook, and it’s a style that’s peculiar to that region’s cinema. It’s difficult to see Western audiences could accept, say, Clint Eastwood or Nic Cage in a similar role in a Hollywood version…
(Reviewed 20th December 2010)