5 March 2007 | Det_McNulty
Brutally Poetic and Beautifully Summing Up Rage, Wounded Love and Loneliness; "Hana- bi" Is Perfect Cinema
Takeshi Kitano, the actor and director of Hana-bi certainly has left an imprint on Asian cinema. Managing to differ between playing brutal, yet sensitive characters to directing films centred on hard-boiled, "cops vs. criminals" plots. Takeshi Kitano remains one of the finest actors in cinema, most film viewers were introduced to his acting after watching Battle Royale, which has had a huge effect of his recognition. He is an actor who can bury himself deep inside a role, becoming a dark, disillusioned character and being cast as characters who are usually coming to terms with the guilt of their past. Well known for his deadpan style he has developed into an icon of modern Asian cinema.
Hana-bi is the haunting, powerful, thoughtful tale of a severe police officer who retires from the force after his wife gets leukaemia and a fellow officer gets paralysed from an accident that he blames himself for. The film follows the tragedy and self-destruction in the man's life who wants to help the people he loves before it is too late. The narrative of Hana-bi is one that moves with a fairly slow grace, perfectly suiting the film's mood and structuring a detailed and enigmatically twisted plot.
Hana-bi is a prime example of minimalist film-making, providing a poetic journey of self-discovery and accepting the effects of anger. Hana-bi is far from an aggressive film, even though the violence is stark, abrupt, restrained, brutal, unflinching and at times strangely beautiful in its film techniques. The literal translation of the title "Hana-bi" translates to fireworks, which is a metaphor for the brief explosion of life we live. The pensive feel is relaxing rather than brooding, flooded by sudden flashbacks of violence, which wonderfully grab the viewer's attention. There is also an element of dark humour paced throughout the film, which makes you laugh, but also makes you ponder the film's deep philosophical, moralistic and nihilistic imagery.
The acting from the entire cast is stunningly provocative and moving, edged with the factor of such a brilliant script, yet it is a film that does not rely on language as a key factor. Few performances have moved me with such provoking and eventually challenging studies of human characteristics, emotion and psychology. The metaphorical, subliminal and emblematic cinematography is marvellous at carefully capturing some of the most unforgettable imagery in cinema. The haunting score is truly remarkable n its aching sophistication and elegance, ultimately helping define a clear atmosphere. It is undoubtedly a pessimistic film on the surface, although still being a film that holds hope under the façade.
Hana-bi is perfect cinema. Few films come quite as close to its breathtaking brilliance and overwhelming nature. Sublime, in every sense of the word, its beauty will knock you right out.