In 1989, when this movie was made, Takeshi Kitano was already a popular
TV-comedian (and occasional character actor) in Japan ... but
outside of Japan, he was hardly known at all.
For all those who only knew Kitano as comedian though, this film must
have been a shock: a hard-boiled, violent, bloody, realistic cop story that
(at least on first look) shows no mercy. But the film also introduced
Kitano - who wasn't supposed to direct this film at all, allegedly veteran
Kinji Fukasaku was supposed to - as a visionary director, who could carefuly balance realistic bloodletting and poetic shots, a
no-nonsense atmosphere and very dry humour, and chases and shoot-outs aplenty and an
intelligent story - that he soon became a favourite at international film
festivals is thus hardly surprising !
But first things first ...
The plot: Azumi (Takeshi Kitano) is the titular violent cop: He wants to install
law and order, but when it comes to the means to do so, he is not too
particular - he often beats confessions out of suspects, runs them over
with his car or pulls his gun unprovoked to frighten them. Things get
pretty much out of control when he and his partner, newbie Kikuchi (Makoto
Ashikawa), investigate the death of a drugdealer ... and the only real
clue leads to Azumi's colleague and best friend Iwaki (Sei Hiraizumi), who
seems to have sold drugs from police storage to drug kingpin Nito (Ittoku
Kishibe). But once Azumi and Kikuchi are on Iwaki's trail, Iwaki seems to
disappear ... only to show up a few days later hanging from a bridge by
his neck. The official statement is suicide, only Azumi refuses to believe
that ... especially when a few more deaths dan also be linked to the whole
Soon enough, Azumi figures out that Nito and his killer Kiyohiro
(Hakuryu) must be behind the affair, but when Azumi arrests Kiyohiro under
a false pretence and brutally beats him up and even threatens to kill him
while in police custody, not only is Kiyohiro released, but Azumi is also
fired from his job.
But now Kiyohiro is furious, and he wants revenge ... so he first has
Azumi's retarded sister Akari (Maiko Kawakami) kidnapped by three drug
addicts who shoot her up with heroin and gangrape her - whjich she doesn't
even seem to notice in her mental state -, then he tries to assassinate
Azumi himself, , but Azumi manages to defent himself, even if he gets
Now Azumi is furious too, so he buys himself a gun at the black market
(after all, he isn't a cop anymore) and first bursts into Nito's office
and shoots him in cold blood. Then he pays a visit to Kiyohiro, who has
since shot his raping drug addicts, and the two shoot it out ... with
Azumi shooting his opponent dead, but emerging from it seriously injured.
When he sees what Kiyohiro and company have made of his sister - an
out-of-her-mind drug addict -, he shoots her too.
When he wants to leave the scene though,he himself is shot by Shinkai
(Ken Yoshizawa), Nito's second-in-command, who has now moved up in the
In the end, there is no more violent cop. But newbie Kikuchi has taken
it upon himself to supply new drug kingpin Shinkai with drugs ...
What is fascinating about this film is that it does not go the easy way
of telling an action story with a good cop and bad villains with the good
cop's methods just being means to an end (like, let's say, Don Siegel's Dirty
Harry), in this film Azumi is no hero, his methods are wrong - and
eventually get him fired -, they only invoke more violence, and in the
end, Azumi himself has become a killer, and by now is right only in his
own book (after all, he shoots his own, innocent sister). Likewise in a
scene an innocent passer-by is shot, for which Azumi is at least partly
responsible - but by then he is too far gone to even notice. If all that sounds too academic for you though, let me assure you
everything is packed into an entertaining and engaging action film that does in no scene
try to push its moral.
Highest recommendation !!!