Brother (2000) Poster

(I) (2000)

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Very enjoyable (a quick review)
antony-11 January 2005
Normally I like to give more detail in a review, but this is a quick one.

I enjoyed this movie a lot. I'm not entirely sure why. I think mostly it was just plain fun. 'Beat' Takeshi was just brilliant in the role of Aniki. It's a sign of a great actor when he can command your attention without really doing anything.

I loved its thoughtful pace and purpose, and how there was a real symmetry in the story. In terms of introduction of the characters and their interactions, the story closes in reverse really nicely. I won't say much more, as I don't want to spoil it; it's not major, just nicely done.

All in all, I highly recommend it. It's quite violent at times, but if you're okay with that (and hell, perhaps even like it in a Kill Bill kind of way) then definitely check this out.
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Brilliant gangster picture sliced to ribbons by the M.P.A.A.
Captain_Couth3 December 2003
Brother (2000) marks the English language directorial debut for Takeshi Kitano in this cross over gangster film about a deposed Yakuza living in exile on the streets of L.A. This entertaining and surprisingly fast moving picture (for a Kitano film) release date was delayed in the United States by more than a year. When it was finally released the film played mainly in Art houses and was heavily edited by the old cronies that sit on the M.P.A.A. board. It's impossible to see this movie how it was original meant to be show. Sadly, prior releases (even on video) were the same old prints that were used during it's theatrical release. Ho-hum. I recommend the director's/international version of this film. The M.P.A.A. cut lacks the punch of the original.

A+ (International)

B+ (american)
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Another masterpiece from Kitano
Bogey Man29 June 2002
Takeshi Kitano's Brother is Kitano's masterpiece among his other films. I really haven't seen bad film from him. Brother is set in America as Kitano's character travels to US from Japan, and starts new life there. He has his half brother living there so he has a place to live in. Soon he starts to have new friends and become a leader and member of their new gang/yakuza. Violent confrontations with other gangs and mafia take place as everyone is willing to use violence and vengeance in order to settle things.

Brother has all the usual and breath taking Kitano elements we've learnt to see. The flashbacks of events, long shots without editing, character's faces that say more things than 100 words, images of beauty and peace and wry humor, among others elements. The main theme in Brother is loyalty and friendship that becomes even love. The last scene is fantastic and very unusual for Kitano; never has he underlined his message this clearly as he does in Brother's finale. It is so purifying scene and really makes the point clear, but still, most people don't understand anything about Kitano's films, because they are so personal and different compared to Western mainstream films.

Brother is like a combination of Violent Cop and Hana'Bi. It has Violent Cop's bleakness and Hana-Bi's beauty and sadness. Brother is very sad film at times, and only last scene gives something really positive and also optimistic. Hana-Bi is very sad and beautiful film, and these two, Brother and Hana-Bi, have much in common. Both were composed by the same guy, Joe Hisaishi, who did fantastic job especially in Hana-Bi and also Sonatine. Violent Cop is very gritty and also pessimistic film, and is very similar to Brother in its overall look of life. Both films are also very calm and restrained and not as visually stunning as Hana-Bi and Sonatine. All these films are masterpieces of Japanese cinema, and it is interesting to see how Kitano mixes elements from his other films and creates always something new and immortal.

The violence is very brutal and challenging but definitely not gratuitous or exploitative. Kitano's violence is always very symbolic and sudden, and not necessarily realistic. These films analyze many aspects of violence as a tool of communicating for weak souls. Kitano definitely doesn't justify violence or praise it; he just shows what most people or film makers probably wouldn't even dare to think of, and once the viewer may be thinking "yeah, kill that b****rd!" the film turns against the viewer and makes him think what he just said and accepted. The more emotionally challenging film is, the more noteworthy it becomes and Kitano's films are perfect examples of that.

Brother is also occasionally filled with Kitano's wry and personal humor which was at its taunting in his Boiling Point. Brother has many great personal touches of its creator and every time Kitano's character laughs here, there is something very twisted in his mind and going on. Brother is not thoroughly cynical film after all, and these humoristic touches only add to the great purification of the last scene.

The film criticizes yakuza also pretty much and with the director's personal style, as there are numerous scenes involving yakuza rites and codes of honor. Also, there is a great scene involving basketball and yakuza member's attempt to get the ball and be king of the game and have a feeling of being somebody. Boiling Point has plenty of these scenes and tones as the gangsters play tough guy with big guns and thus try to get acceptance. These films really should make yakuzas ask themselves, why?

I am totally stunned by cinematic styles Kitano uses in his films. The editing and photography is so incredibly smooth and stylish, and creates the atmosphere of the film. The faces are among the most important details in Kitano's films as there are so many things to be read from characters' faces. For example, there is awesome scene in Brother's beginning where Kitano "sees" the death of a yakuza boss. Kitano has totally unique sense of beauty, sensitivity and expressing emotions that has no comparison from other films. His character doesn't talk too much in his films, but anytime he says something, he says and expresses more than thousand words. His films are immortal and can be seen over and over again, and still they have plenty of things to offer for the lover of this unique cinema.

Brother is among Kitano's greatest films and I definitely give this ten out of ten, because there are absolutely no negative aspects in this film, and this proudly stands in Takeshi Kitano's filmography.
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Oh, Brother
biffertron20 May 2003
Sweet Daddy Jones said it all - the best gangster film since Goodfellas. Go beyond that and you have one of the best, most economical pieces of film making in years.

Someone in the thread moaned about the lack of dialogue, did they feel the same way about Eastwood's spaghetti films or the Unforgiven? You either understand that level of economy or you dont. Like the best music, somtimes its what artists leave out that speaks volumes, and creates art. Its the space 'inbetween', not chucking the kitchen sink, that pulls you in.

This film is excellent, if you like Tarantino or Scorsese - watch this and see someone who actually manages to bring Eastern film making to Hollywood with the utmost panache. Unlike John Woo, who I love dearly, but was comprehensively f***ed up the ass by Hollywood (Mission Impossible2, Face Off, Hard Target) in the process.

'I may not understand American, but I DO understand Jap motherf***er' There's a quote, there's a fact. If, like previous respondents you dont get minimalistic action (which is also mega hardcore),this is not for you. Those of us who like our action slick, sleek and to the bone, sign up now.
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Absolute genius.
zombieman197815 May 2006
When I rented Takeshi Kitano's stunning masterpiece brother, it was simply because I wanted to get myself further immersed in Asian cinema. Although, I'm was a little bit iffy because of the fact that Omar Epps was in it, and I was worried that it would be some piece of americanized garbage. But when I watched it,I was completely blown away. It was intelligent without being terribly confusing, and it was violent without being overly gross. This is one of the best movies I have ever seen, and is quite possibly one of the greatest films ever made. The story concerns Aniki Yamomoto (Takeshi kitano, under the name Beat Takeshi) who joins a very well-to-do yakuza family in japan. But when a price is put on his head, he flees to America, to set up shop there with his younger brother Ken (kuroudo Maki under the name Claude Maki) and his gang, which includes a black man named Denny (Omar Epps). They run into trouble with other mobs in the city, but Aniki's style of war brings them on a steady inclination to the top. Underrated and under-appreciated, this little gem is definitely a good one to own, as it is truly a cinematic masterpiece.
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Kitano invades LA - almost succeeds
gray430 November 2003
This is the 4th Kitano film I've seen recently. It has most of the characteristics of the other films - the sudden, shocking violence, the impassive silences, the same supporting actors, the obligatory seaside scene. But the shift to an American location weakens it, despite the excellent contributions of the US actors, especially Omar Epps.

But the core, unmissable qualities of a Kitano film remain. Takeshi Kitano must be the natural successor to Clint Eastwood as an anti-hero. Most of the stylised violence takes place off-screen, with a flash of humour, then the after-effects vividly on display. The sound-track from Joe Hisaishi matches the screen action perfectly, at times an aggressive supplement to the violence, at other times hauntingly peaceful.

The ending is the film's weakest part, as though Kitano pandered to imagined (or real) American requirements. The out-of-town setting and road movie elements fit uncomfortably with the rest of the film. But if this is the compromise needed to get Kitano to make more films out of Japan, it must be worthwhile.
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whoTheFuqRyou19 March 2003
to say that this was good is a complete understatement. I had heard about this movie before but never saw until one night it popped up on HBO Zone. I was like "what the hell" and figure it wouldn't hurt to watch, but when I did - I LOVED IT!! there isn't much English dialogue in this movie, but there's enough - it's understandable as it's about a Yakuza gangster(Kitano) who is Exiled from Japan only to form an American Yakuza overseas in the U.S. - He collaborates with his brother(Miko) and his crew to form the organization. Omar Epps is in this as Denny, he is pretty good in this but it was the Japanese in this movie that really made this worth the watch... VERY Good mafia flick

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Guys in suits and sunglasses murder one another.
jzappa11 October 2006
Beat Takeshi is a filmmaker so distinct and so completely different from any other filmmaker that you have to be prepared before seeing one of his films to watch something differently than you normally would. Brother is his first overseas production, and to this day his only one, and perhaps its minimal success and marginal fan base is due to its seeming lack of plot, its evasive editing, or something else that Takeshi customarily draws attention to, whether purposefully or not.

Brother is not quite his best film, but you will realize that the focus is not on the story but on the themes of its story. Completely unlike its characters, especially Takeshi's stone cold killer, its story is something to feel your way through. These characters do not feel much. They do. The movie is mostly made up of deadpan scenes of bloody violence, occasional dialogue, and quiet medium closeups. The music, which like in all Takeshi films is lush and emotional, directs our feelings.

Brother is great for fans of crime movies, gangsters, violence overall, Asian cinema, and even action fans, but Takeshi Kitano's style is a strangely deadpan and very personal approach. It's an acquired taste.
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Not Kitano´s best, but still a good movie!
DJ Inferno26 May 2002
"Brother" may be Kitano´s most well-known and successful movie, but after all it´s just another sign that success at the box offices doesn´t make the perfect movie, because it lacks in many respects: the story is too one-dimensional and delivers nothing really new, the characters are not developed enough, excluding the brilliant play of Omar Epps and, of course, Kitano himself. However, if you like heavy gunfight violence in the style of "Reservoir Dogs" or Takeshi´s elder "Violent Cop" this is the right film for you! The body count is higher than in all Quentin Tarantino/Sam Peckinpah films together and even some gore like cut off fingers and heads is brought on here and there. Once more the violent pictures are laid under with beautiful piano music what gives some disturbing aspects as well as emotional rollercoasters to this film. Definitely one of the better gangster movies of the last few years, but not the best as often said. A good film which is a little bit overrated... Can´t await to see Kitano´s "Battle Royale" - this one must be really brilliant..!
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The Least Interesting Of Kitano's Films, But Still Good
I am a huge fan of the brilliant cinematic genius Takeshi Kitano, his films "Hana-Bi" (1997) and "Violent Cop" (1991) are two of my all-time favorites and I also found several other Kitano films such as "Zatoichi" (2003) excellent. "Brother" of 2001 is in my opinion Kitano's weakest film up to date, which does not mean that it's bad. It is just not quite as brilliant as Kitano's other work. Kitano is once again director and leading actor, and he once again delivers a great performance in the lead.

Yakuza Aniki Yamamoto (Kitano) flees to America after his death is ordered by a Yakuza clan. Yamamoto goes to LA where his younger brother Ken is supposed to study. Instead of studying, however, Ken deals drugs with some American friends. And it doesn't take Yamamoto long to plan some drastic improvements for his little brother's gang...

Takeshi Kitano's performance is once again superb, this guy certainly is one of the greatest cinematic multi-talents who ever lived. I found the Japanese characters great in general, and if it was only for them, "Brother" would have probably almost reached Kitano's masterpieces in brilliance. I personally didn't like the American characters though. Omar Epps certainly is a good actor, but his character of Denny is just not very deep, simply the very stereotypical African American street gangster seen in two out of three cheesy Hollywood blockbusters. And that counts for the other American characters too. It wasn't actually that bad with Omare Epps, simply because he is a very good actor. Besides the flatness of the American characters, I found the movie very good. It is once again beautifully and imaginatively filmed in typical Kitano style, and it has the typical Kitano humor that I love. The movie is also very violent, so it's probably not for people who are easily offended by brutality in films. What I also really like about "Brother" is the fact that at least half of the movie is in Japanese. The Japanese characters also talk Japanese when they are in the US.

"Brother" is arguably Kitano's weakest movie, and definitely my least favorite of his movies, but that doesn't mean it's bad. We're talking about a great cinematic genius here, and "Brother" certainly is a good, suspenseful, entertaining, stylish and interesting film. In case you don't know Kitano yet, i recommend to watch "Hana-bi" or "Violent Cop" before watching this, but in case you're already familiar with Kitano "Brother" is certainly worth watching. My fellow Kitano fans should not miss this. Recommended 7/10
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Kitano's failure
Angelus22 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Yamamoto is a Yakuza boss who is exiled to America and forced to live with his half-brother, but the life of a Yakuza seems to follow you everywhere as Yamamoto begins his violent rise to the top once more.

Sanotine and Outage are perhaps two of Kitano's finest and if I had to pick between the two, Outrage would come on top...Brother is Kitano's transition to the States because apparently you're not a good director if you don't make a Hollywood movie! Brother is missing many Kitano's personal touches, his weird humour and his dark personality. The film seems to be just like all the other weak gangster movies that are churned out, with pointless violence and not a story to be told, I didn't find myself making any sort of connection with any of the characters unlike Murakawa in Sonatine and Otomo from Outrage.
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Lyrical genius in love with savage violence?
Manicheus9 July 2002
"Brother" makes the "Godfather" trilogy look like a kindergarten Christmas production. Kitano is definitely glorifying gratuitous violence, I am sorry to say it but it's true. He's smart and chic enough to know that he could be making wonderfully poetic films for the artsy crowd but perhaps he wants to offend on purpose. However, he ends up making beautifully directed odes to brutality in which japanese contemporary society appears only as backdrop against the vicious and callous homicidal maniacs obssessed with serial killing. Here, Kitano ,expatriated in LA, quickly manages to practically wipe off entire Cholo (Chicano) mob population: dozens of bodies mowed left and right with an aide from three inept street hustlers (one of whom is his americanized half-brother)... Of course, "Brother" does have Kitano's trademark scenes even if not nearly as elaborate as those in "Sonatine" or "Fireworks": a brief long-shot scene at the beach and a GREAT roof scene with the paper airplane...LOOK, OF COURSE, FOR SOME CHOPPED FINGERS ETC.

I am perhaps rambling a little. It shows you how ambivalent my feelings about Kitano in fact are. On one hand I like him a lot and consider him a rarely gifted film maker. In fact, one of the finest. On the other hand I deeply deplore his basic premises: death and misogyny. I can't make up my mind. I keep wanting to stay away from his films and I end up seeing them one after another. A strange experience for me.
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edwafor1 August 2001
Warning: Spoilers
I don't even like action movies, but the previews of this made it seem different and it was. I read some reviews and an interview with Kitano before seeing it and Kitano was refuting what was written in the reviews (that he was a "Japanese Clint Eastwood"). Well, Kitano was right. I have to admit I haven't seen that many Eastwood films, but from the ones I've seen there was no comparison. The depth of the character, his reasons for doing things, whatever was inside that made him absolutely fearless and resolute, and how he ultimately found peace were nothing I've ever seen in any other action movie.

It's hard to say the things I liked most about this film without giving spoilers, but take it from someone who doesn't like the genre, this is a good one!
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mrchrisgreen23 March 2002
I hadn't seen any of his previous work, and I went into this film with no idea of what to expect. As far as a film goes, it lacked interest, depth and structure. The acting is mixed, in that some actors perform well and others terribly. Violence is obviously key to the director's style, but it is neither slick nor clever despite being presented in short, horrific bursts. The story is poor, loosely strung together, and collapses at the end in a heap of self-pity. I am confused as to how anyone can find merit in this film. Avoid if you can, although if you're reading this it's probably too late.
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Nobody does it better!
stefant24 August 2001
No body does it better?I tell my self,Takeshi Kitano only gets better and better during the years,The movie´s plot is about a yakuza member(Takeshi)who goes to the U.S in the search for is younger brother who now a days is in the drug business Instead of what would happen in a U.S gangster movie,Takeshi dosn´t become mad when he finds out about is brother´s whereabouts.He declares war against every drug seller he can get is hands on.He wants to rule it himself.I must have seen about 3000 movies in my life(33 years old) and nothing is as violent as this one.It´s over the top Ultra violence during all the movie,it had a slight similarity to the greatest movie of all times Brian De Palmas Scarface. Thank you Takeshi!
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My favorite Japanese movie
dobo_banzai8 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
When my brother give me "Brother" as a Christmas present I didn't expect that this film would make such a strong impression to me.But it did!!!I like the film for many reason,but mostly for these which I say now.

For me "Brother" is film for man who knows his destiny and he doesn't fear from it.He was gangster in Japan and he must run away from certain death.And he goes to America.There he continue the life he was living all his life-being gangster.Thats his destiny.He understands it and he never run away from it again,to his death.Kitano's character is very introvert,but also very touching.At the beginning of the film while making his own gang he is very active,but at the end,when he understands his destiny is mainly passive.

The film show us the different aspects of real man's life-his girlfriend,his friends,his colleagues,his brother.In any of it man can see the wisdom and humour in the human relationships as they should be.

Who is the brother?I think this is Deny,his best friend,and Kitano tell this in the end of the film.Because in the end he preferred to save Deny's life,not his real brother.So I think this is a film of friendship between two man into a very high level.

A want to say a few words about the violence.How to create a gang without violence?The violence is necessary to keep these criminals into order.Loyalty and fear,thats the card that Kitano'character bet on.And he is right.

I feel a lot more emotions but I am not very good in writing,especially in English,so I cannot describe the variety of emotions,views,thoughts that have gone through my head.And of course there is no point in talking about a film you should watch the film,thats it purpose.And "Brother" is worth watching because it is a masterpiece.
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Inscrutably inane synthetically styled deathorama
thailand11 November 2002
Sony Pictures Classics should be ashamed of themselves.

I nearly fell out of my chair laughing when in the second-last scene a character's line include "inscrutable". That's the term I had been thinking of since about 10 minutes into this 2 hour piece of cinecaca.

This movie's stylish light-jazz soundtrack, hip art direction and highly aesthetic look are enough to make you want to like it.

Unfortunately, that's impossible. This movie is garbage. The performers can't act. The dialogue is beneath juvenile. The script shows not even a remote trace of intelligence. The characters are plastic and one dimensional. There isn't a hint of continuity. The script is ludicrous and plot development is non-existent, without a hint of credibility in any part of the story.

"Brother" is an insult to the "Yakuza flic" genre.

This "movie" is optimized aesthetic moronity, mindless 2-second murders by the dozen, all committed to a jazzy sax soundtrack.

After the midpoint, I was pondering whether to continue watching as the movie descended further and further into mindlessness. I guess I only watched to the end in order to see how low it would actually sink.

This movie is as bad as "Knock Off", "The Negotiator", and "Showdown in Little Tokyo", probably worse.

Save yourself the time. If you want to see a ultra-hip, stylized, aesthetics-over-plot Asian movie (Hong Kong), try "The Odd One Dies" (1997) or "Fallen Angels" (1995), both with Takeshi Kaneshiro.

Or if you want to see an equally obtuse and mindless film, but very stylized action pulp noire, try Seijun Suzuki's classic "Branded To Kill" (1967).

"Brother" is a complete bomb. I give it 1/10, which is a rating I reserve only for very "special" movies.
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Great gangster flick
Seolas4 July 2003
Brother: 9/10

I had only seen one Kitano movie before. At the end of that movie, I said, "What's the big deal with Kitano?" to a friend. Then he figured out I had actors mixed up, and Kitano was the guy who stole the show and I thought was someone else. Brother was amazing, and sold me once and for all on Kitano. I won't spoil anything, but will say the violence is very unforgiving and will just make you stare at the screen open-mouthed. The cinematography is great, and it had "patience" scenes like you would in much western cinema (including over half a minute of Kitano walking up a street after arriving in America). Everything Kitano does is a joy to watch. His facial expressions are often subtle, just minor changes, but you tend to "get it". The movie did not glorify the Yakuza in any way, and although I'm not very educated on the subject, may have made them out to be worse than they are (although it did stress their code of honour). In my opinion, this was better than the entire Godfather trilogy, and the best "gangster" flick I've ever seen."
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Violent but decent film
sandspider15 August 2002
I am a fan of Omar Epps ever since I seen the TV movie First Time Felon so I decided to purchase Brother on DVD. I was shocked by the great quality of the film although it is extremely violent I feel it is necessary to get across the severeness of the yakuza. I recommend this film to anyone who likes gangster movies or violent flicks. Takeski Kitano is an extremely good actor/director. I rate it 4 out of 5. I also recommend Kitano's film Sonatine.
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the red duchess3 August 2001
Of all the directors who have plundered the legacy of Jean-Pierre Melville for superficial treasure, Takeshi Kitano has always been the most intelligent, the most alert to his metaphysical drive. 'Brother', Kitano's mostly marvellous new feature, is imbued with all things Melville, from the opening silent wandering of Yamomoto, like Jef in 'Le Samourai', to the muted blue colour palette, faceless glass buildings and grey ritual beach of 'Un Flic'

Most pertinent, however, is Melville's under-rated 'Deux hommes dans Manhattan', which also starred the director. Like that film, 'Brother' is Kitano's first American film, his first cultural work in the country of origin of the urban genre he has made his own. And like Melville, instead of dealing with this country, Kitano seems to have become more obsessively Japanese, more interested in ritual, nation, Eastern philosophy. In other words, Kitano has taken foreign money to make an uncompromisingly personal film which, like 'Boiling Point' and 'Kids' Return', turns the gangster film into a rite of passage.
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Comparing this to the likes of Goodfellas and The Godfather is a disgrace, pure and simple.
johanleupen1 December 2001
Brother is Kitano's first picture financed by western production companies and produced on American soil. It centers on Yakuza-member Yamamoto (Kitano) being exiled from his home country by rival gangs. He travels to the U.S. where he teams up with his brother, formes his own Yakuza-force and climbs the ranks of the underworld by violently disposing of his enemies. Kitano is known for using extreme violence in his pictures and Brother is no exception. On the contrary, Brother features some of the most graphic scenes in recent film history. Unfortunately, Kitano fails to create any sense of direction or unity in his effort. Brother consists of consecutive scenes depicting violent assasinations of rivals, followed by scenes featuring retaliations by the aforementioned rivals. The is no sense of allegiance or even alignment with Yamamoto and his associates (including Omar Epps, in one of his worst performances yet). We never get inside the mind of Yamamoto and Kitano leaves us with a ruthless, stoic, unendearing zombie wearing sunglasses all day long, hardly talking and thus failing to make us care about him or his actions. I have no problems with scenes of people cutting of their thumbs as long as they serve somekind of purpose in the plot. Kitano seems to have no motivation whatsoever for showing us these images, beside maybe shocking us. Furthermore, he includes various scenes that don't have any purpose in the movie at all. It all makes for a very confusing and uneven piece of work. Acting-performances in Brother are bland and very poorly delivered, with the actors saying their lines without any sense of conviction or purpose. Kitano's poor writing only makes matters worse. Also, cinematography in this picture is handled very poorly (just as every other aspect of Brother). There is no direction in most of the shots, beside making sure the actors appear in them. All in all it makes for a very tiresome and unsatisfying viewing. I've heard Brother being compared to the likes of Goodfellas and The Godfather and i have to say it's a disgrace as Brother doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence with these masterpieces. Not recommended, to be sure.
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Kitano unleashed!
morfeus9 May 2003
This movie show us the real Kitano -the "kill or be killed" truth-movie maker. It clearly reveals the primary objective of any individual, often concealed by several forms of the society - be the one,on be nothing.And if you die, die with honor. 10/10.
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The Worst Movie I Have Ever Seen!
jeffdiggy29 June 2010
You know the Dos Equis commercials with "the most interesting man alive"? You KNOW he's not the most interesting man alive, but the comic genius, style and humor of the one-liners force you to engage the possibility of A most interesting man. "Brother" is literally the worst movie I have ever watched! It is worse than a college film or short made by a child. It was SO hard to watch, but I was simply amazed that Omar Epps would be in such a horrible film...but now understand how his career went down the shoot. This movie made him look like (or revealed him to be) a HORRIBLE actor. I had never thought he was great before, but this was just disgraceful. This movie actually caused me pain to watch. It was like one of those rags to riches stories...but you just don't have any idea of HOW everybody got to the riches...or, more importantly, WHY???? And for you people (those) who gave this movie a 10 - did the filmmaker pay you to join this website and vote 10s??? HOW could ANYONE (even a mentally retarded or highly-challenged individual) vote beyond a 2?? It actually had potential (concept/story-wise), but was TOTALLY unbelievable! And the acting!?! MY GOD!!! The acting was just like vomit ingested...and vomited AGAIN!!!
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Hard to keep track of all the deaths and bloodshed!
MartinHafer21 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Wow. According to IMDb, the body count in this film is a whopping 78! Had I known this ahead of time, I probably wouldn't have watched this film. I am usually turned off by overly violent films, as too often there isn't much of a story and it's just an excuse for gross-out special effects that appeal to our lowest instincts. So did the film win me over or was it just another blood-fest? Well, it did impress me--that's for sure.

Takeshi Kitano (also known as Beat Takeshi) wrote, directed and starred in this film. It begins in Japan and two rival yakuza clans are at war with each other. Eventually, to end the conflict, the surviving members of one clan officially join the other--all but one hard guy (Kitano). Instead of killing him, however, they send him overseas--to an exile, of sorts.

Kitano arrives in America to stay with his younger half-brother. However, the younger guy is a punk drug dealer hanging with low-lifes--not a yakuza big-wig like Kitano. One of the younger half-brother's friends (Omar Epps) meets Kitano--and the meeting is very memorable! In fact, EVERYTHING about his dealings with Kitano turn out to be memorable. Kitano soon decides to take out the half-brother's enemies and starts a gang war with the Mexican gangs thanks to his crazy macho ways--and Kitano seems not the least bit concerned during all this as his face is quite deadpan and cold throughout. After all, in his mind, if people hurt you, just kill well as their friends. He is truly a scary guy here! And, a scary get bent on taking over everything. At least it's nice to see a man with ambition! Following Takeshi's example, his small band of punks quickly grows. And, so does their ambition and love of violence. Among all this is a weird suicide scene (in fact, there was another really weird one later). I guess it makes sense, in a way...but man is it weird. And so the body count rises...very quickly. And the younger half-brother soon sees himself as a really, really bad guy--and it's easy to see that he and his friends are setting themselves up to fall.

After seeing this film, I noticed it bore some resemblance to an earlier Kitano film--"Sonatine". Both have very similar themes, a similar deadpan performance by Kitano and feature some oddly surreal scenes of mobsters at work and play. And, both have ENORMOUS body counts. While good films and I certainly could respect how they were crafted, they also were both pretty unpleasant viewing and I can't imagine watching more of these! Well made but yuck! By the way, it was nice to see James Shigeta in this film. He was once a very popular actor but hasn't been as active in recent years. Also, during the course of all the killing, did you notice that NEVER did any police respond to any of the gunfire?! Maybe it's just too common an occurrence in LA...or the film just forgot about this.
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Brisk, senseless mayhem
chaos-rampant15 July 2011
A lot of reviews describe this as Kitano's 'compromised' film, implying some meddling by the powers that be. Strangely not on the subject of violence, which this is full of. Theories aside, something seems to happen to Asian filmmakers coming to work in the US. It's like they are removed from the very soul of what they create back home, so even when the reproduction is dutiful (here, the Wong Kar Wai film) it seems to lack the intuitive connection with the specific cinematic world.

This lacks a bit of everything. A plausible scenario, meaningful relationships, the grim gravitas that propels beyond the mundanities of another story about gangland rivalries. The fish-out-of-water element of a Japanese yakuza coming to Los Angeles in search of his brother is really milked for all its worth. How many times can Takeshi deadpan the astonished locals?

Awkward moments abound in this, really awkward. Example; a hotel porter politely waits around Takeshi in the hope he will get another huge tip like the last time. We get it, he's polite but only because there's money in it. Leaving the room frustrated, Kitano has him actually blurt out "no tip this time!" as though we needed to be sure. There's more of this, mostly situations with the English-speaking actors directed like pieces of wood. The two worlds never quite gel together, in the way that even briefly they do in The Yakuza.

The charm here comes in the form of the casual moments inbetween the strident plotting that would take up the bulk of the Hollywood equivalent of this film. People hanging around, bonding over a game of basketball or throwing ball in a beach. It's what Johnnie To has been doing over in Hong Kong. But To builds with an eye for elegy, for tenderness about to be swept away by carnage and the carnage ennobled as ballet of violence. Takeshi on the other hand counterpoints the intimacy with bursts of brisk, senseless, mayhem.
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