"Beat" Takeshi, Omar Epps
Widescreen; closed caption; in English, Japanese; English, French, Spanish subtitles; theatrical trailers.
|The current master of hard-boiled Japanese crime drama writer/director Takeshi Kitano, AKA actor "Beat" Takeshi finally comes to America. At least, he shot much of his latest film here and plays Aniki, a Yakuza who leaves Japan after a gang upheaval and establishes his own criminal empire in Los Angeles. Sequences are set on both sides of the Pacific, and dialogue is in English and subtitled Japanese. But the taciturn Aniki, with his penchant for cold, sudden brutality, doesn't have too much to say in any language. His actions pulling together a misfit horde of Asian, black and Hispanic street punks, then taking over a big chunk of the local drug trade by violently eliminating the competition do all the talking. Not that there isn't a garrulous foil to pick up the slack. African-American leading man Omar Epps ("Love and Basketball"), as Aniki's right-hand man, has a nice rapport with Takeshi. It's not as lyrical as his 1993 movie "Sonatine," yet this is a decent intro to Beat's beat.|