14 December 2001 | *(CableGuy)*
A truly masterful minimalist work
Having finally experience Sonatine, I can't say enough for this poignant and moving film. Beat Takeshi may face death with that same disconnected look on his face, but it is the inaction, the time between the killings, that carry all the meaning. Even when in gunbattles, nobody moves, nobody tries to dodge, it is as if everyone simply feels chained to their fate. This is jarring to Asian cinema lovers used to side-jumping, dual-gun gymnastics and amazing set pieces.
I love how the only emotions Murakawa expresses are humor and nihilist apathy. The "sumo scene" is so delightfully out-of-place, while the ending simply leaves your mouth open. The warmth the characters show just makes it more hurtful when they meet such pathetic, low-key ends. I'm not an expert on Japanese society, but I see this film as a comment on the emptiness of a fear-filled culture of reservation, where it is more important to show restraint and respect than it is to continue living.
I'll still enjoy good ol' HK pistol operas, but I'll never see them quite the same again.