"I recently rented Brother on DVD here in america last week. And was saddened to find that they edited a fair amount of scenes from the original version. The movie still functions with the scenes edited out, but I felt that these edited scenes brought more clarity to the movie. The edited amereican version doesn't quite have that clarity, and therefore suffers somewhat. The edited scenes were mostly in Japanese, and gave background on why Takeshi's character was going to LA. . Perhaps the studio felt that american viewers do not like to read subtitles or don't like seeing people in other countries. I am not sure why this was done, but I think that it takes away from the movie and shortchanges the viewer. Anyhow, it is Takeshi being Takeshi, and the movie is well done. Not a bad crossover film for Takeshi and Kitano. It's rather humourous at times and there is enough bad [butt]edness going around to make even the seasoned action flix fan happy. I would give it 5 stars had they not messed with it and edited scenes from the original."
A Stunning Gangster Movie--and a Breath of Fresh Air
Stephen Kaczmarek | Columbus, Ohio United States | 03/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As introspective as it is violent, "Brother" manages to do what few Hollywood gangster films can--entertain and make you think. To call the plot Shakespearean almost seems an insult, as its sensibilities are so obviously Japanese, with the emphasis not on the action but on the effects of it, but careful observers may see strains of "Macbeth" and "Richard III" in this very grown-up feature (with a little Sergio Leone thrown in). Director and star Takeshi Kitano follows the last days of a disgraced Yakuza in America, whose brilliant but brutal rise to power in modern L.A. is matched only by the intensity of his loyalty to his friends and half-brother. Omar Epps is a likable presence as one of those friends, and the many familiar Japanese-American faces--including veteran James Shigeta--blends ably with the mostly Japanese cast. But it is Kitano that delivers the goods, wisely choosing to underplay Yamamoto as a pillar of quiet strength rather than allow him to become broad-based caricature. In fact, the understated tone of the film is what gives it so much style and intensity; few American films would be bold enough to focus less on the shoot 'em ups and more on the aftermath or to raise the issue of black-on-Asian racism in a gangster movie. That the story ends up pretty much where you expect it to is less a flaw than the culmination of a satisfying slow burn, making this gem a must-see."
A great movie - beyond just violence
therosen | New York, NY United States | 04/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Beat Takeshi provides another violent movie, whose purpose seems to be that violence begets violence, and ultimately it's a dead end. The basic plot has Takeshi playing a yakuza forced to leave Japan upon the death of his boss. He finds his half brother in LA pushing drugs rather than attending school. Takeshi violently turns the small time crew into a major crime cartel.
Yakuza themes of loyalty to family and honor over life pervade the movie. The omnipresent violence somehow avoids being gratuitous, perhaps because one realizes how more graphic it could have been. Unlike traditional western shoot 'em ups, we are left with the aftermath instead of the fight scenes themselves. At times it is hard to follow the plot and remember who is on whose sides, but perhaps that is the point."
ANOTHER GREAT FILM FROM A GREAT DIRECTOR
Stranger | Spain | 03/27/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Acclaimed director Takeshi Kitano -winner of the Golden Lion in Venice '97 for his film "Fireworks"- is again behind the camera directing Brother, his ninth film to date. Kitano also plays the role of the main character as he has done in most of his films.The movie tells us the story of Yamamoto, a member of the Yakuza -the Japanese Mob-, who is expelled from the brotherhood he belongs to due to the betrayal of several members of his clan. He's given up for dead and moves from Tokyo to Los Angeles where he has a younger brother who survives as a modest drug dealer. Then, they begin to wipe out their opponents and thanks to Yamamoto's courage and insight they will become a powerful clan that controls several city areas. However, on their way to seize power, they meet their match and things will begin to go downhill. I won't spoil the ending but I must say that it's a thrilling and emotive one.Kitano offers to the audience an electrifying portrayal of the Yakuza, its motivations and, most of all, its code of honor. The film can also be described as a tragedy because there's a sense of fatality which indicates that everything in the movie moves toward their end. The film depicts the state of mind of a man(Yamamoto)who has lost everything in which he believed and who has become a stateless person, an uprooted drifter shunned from his cultural environment with a ticket of no return.
As in other previous films by this director, deadpan humor is also present but perhaps not so constant as in other movies. There's also an underlying parody of the genre of action and noir films in the realistic and, at the same time, exaggerated way that Kitano describes violence.Another remarkable aspect is the marvellous soundtrack composed by Kitano's longtime collaborator, Joe Hisaishi. A tranquil and melodic score that apparently contrasts with the violence that surrounds the film and which features orchestral and minimal music accompanied by free jazz and rock with absolute perfection in an unparalled exercise of emotional intensity.To finish I'll just say that, in my humble opinion, Brother is an exciting film that is worth seeing and which proves, one more time, that Takeshi Kitano is one of the most talented and distinctive filmmakers of our days."
Kitano Takes Over America
Gerald Browning | Grand Rapids, MI USA | 03/18/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To describe "Brother" as Takeshi Kitano's American directorial debut is like saying Lost in Translation is a Japanese movie. The speaker would be missing the boat totally. In "Brother" we see Japan and America coming to a cataclysmic impact as Yamamoto (Kitano), a Yakuza mobster, is exiled from Japan and forced to live in America with his half-brother. When Kitano finds out that his brother is a small time drug dealer, Kitano takes his brother (as well as his gang) under his wing and turns them into a crime organization to be reckoned with. They take on a mexican cartel and italian mafia alike. However, we see the theme of brotherhood become more of a theme when he and Denny (played by Omar Epps), another small time drug dealer, create a bond that was never attained by his blood brother. Kitano uses light and shadow to punctuate the drama, but the most awe inspiring element to his cinematic vision is the use of silence and stillness. When Kitano is on the screen, sometimes he stands like a statue. The silence in his films are deafening (for a remarkable example of this, I refer to the film "Violent Cop"). With the use of Japanese and English language, we are thrust among the cultural barrier of the gang. However, they are able to circumvent this and become true brothers."