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Japan · 1993
Rated R · 1h 34m
Director Takeshi Kitano
Starring Takeshi Kitano, Aya Kokumai, Tetsu Watanabe, Masanobu Katsumura
Genre Action, Crime, Thriller

Murakawa is sent by his Yakuza boss to quell a brewing gang war in Okinawa, but the days go by and people continue to die. Already world-weary, Murakawa believes he has been set up and decides to lay low on the beach, playing relaxing games with a ragtag group of drifters as they wait for an inevitable confrontation.

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CNN by

Kitano, thankfully, displays the occasional flash of showmanship, and he certainly establishes a unique tone, but troublesome things like plot and pacing don't seem to be to his liking.


The A.V. Club by Keith Phipps

Like the character he plays, Kitano directs the film in a style that alternates between tenderness and brutality, making it a relentlessly tense suspense film one minute and a gentle character study the next. Either half would make Sonatine worth seeing. But taken together as the story of a man who regains his soul but whose face remains permeated with the knowledge of its inevitable loss, it becomes an artful gangster film, Yakuza poetry, and essential viewing.


San Francisco Chronicle by Mick LaSalle

Sonatine eliminates the one virtue American action films can legitimately claim -- vitality -- and replaces it with fake- existential claptrap wrapped in an inept narrative.


Chicago Sun-Times by Roger Ebert

It shows how violent gangster movies need not be filled with stupid dialogue, nonstop action and gratuitous gore. Sonatine is pure, minimal and clean in its lines.


Austin Chronicle by Russell Smith

If you feel hostile toward art that not only confuses you but then also suggests that your confusion is precisely the point, you'll probably want to pass on Sonatine. But if disciplined, minimalist storytelling, formal innovation, and contemplation of mystery for its own sake appeals to you, a real feast awaits you in the films of Takeshi Kitano.

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