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Acclaimed Japanese filmmaker, comedian, television star, author, and all-around renaissance man Takeshi "Beat" Kitano stars in this unconventional take on the crime drama. Kitano portrays Murakawa, a successful Yakuza officer who has grown weary of the violent life, so much so that he has even considered retirement. Thus, he is not pleased when he is asked to lead a team to help defuse a gang war in Okinawa but agrees when he is assured it will be an easy job. It proves anything but, however, and he soon finds himself in the middle of a complex, bloody conflict. Fearing that he has… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 88%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Sleek, punchy and altogether captivating."
‑ Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
"Kitano's haunting elegy to the gangster way of life."
‑ Stephen Holden, New York Times
"bold and ballsy"
‑ Jay Antani, Cinema Writer
"A different kind of action movie."
‑ Michael W. Phillips, Jr., Goatdog's Movies
"Compare the journey taken by Kitano's character to the 'character arc' on exhibit in a typical American action film."
‑ Bryant Frazer, Bryant Frazer's Deep Focus
"Gross and trite as the material is, Kitano shows again that he is an ingenious, purposeful filmmaker."
‑ Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic
"Eliminates the one virtue American action films can legitimately claim -- vitality -- and replaces it with fake- existential claptrap wrapped in an inept narrative."
‑ Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle
"This film resurrected the yakusa genre? It is amazing it didn't put it to sleep for good."
‑ Robert Roten, Laramie Movie Scope
"The quirky humor gives what could easily be a tired story an unusual air of freshness and humanity."
‑ Michael Dequina,
"The great images presented on the screen -- not the acting, nor the story line, are what make this film work best."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"It shows how violent gangster movies need not be filled with stupid dialogue, nonstop action and gratuitous gore."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"[VIDEO] "Sonatine" is a lyrical picture of Japan's poker face toward the outrageous violence of its mob culture."
‑ Cole Smithey,
"Haunting look at doomed yakuza gangster"
‑ Daniel Eagan, Film Journal International
"One of the most valuable facets of Kitano's film is its exposure of the gangster ideal as the myth of little boys who forgot to grow up."
‑ Peter Henne, Film Journal International
"When the action comes, it comes in short, precise bursts. It's not exciting. It's not intended to be."
‑ Carlo Cavagna,
More reviews for Sonatine on Rotten Tomatoes