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Fox Lorber presents
Violent Cop (1989)

"Who sells you the stuff? [WHACK] Who? [WHACK] [WHACK] Who? [WHACK] Who? [WHACK] [WHACK] Who? [WHACK] [WHACK] Who? [WHACK] Who? [WHACK] Who? [WHACK] Who sells you the stuff? [WHACK] [WHACK] [WHACK] [WHACK] Who? [WHACK] Who? [WHACK] [WHACK] Who? [WHACK] "
- Det. Azuma (Takeshi Kitano), questioning a suspect

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: August 23, 2000

Stars: "Beat" Takeshi Kitano, Hakuryu, Maiko Kawakami, Shiro Sano
Other Stars: Shigeru Hiraizumi, Mikiko Otanashi, Makato Ashikawa
Director: Takeshi Kitano

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence, drug use, nudity, sexual situations, rape)
Run Time: 01h:42m:27s
Release Date: December 21, 1999
UPC: 720917514628
Genre: crime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ C-C-C+ D-

DVD Review

As a lawyer, the Dirty Harry sort of film has always been somewhat difficult for me, since there are certain sacred constitutional rights which US citizens have, among which is the right not to have the snot beaten out of you by the cops. As a guy, however, it's also highly satisfactory to see the snot beaten out of the known bad guys by movie cops who don't fool around with the constitutional niceties.

I'm not sure what sort of rights suspects have under Japanese law, but I have to believe that they're something more than what they're given by Detective Azuma (Takeshi Kitano), the antihero of the aptly-named Violent Cop. Kitano has taken the Dirty Harry paradigm and run far, far away with it. The level of mayhem that the deadpan Azuma engages in is remarkable. He shoots, he punches, he runs suspects over with his car, then kicks them, kicks people down stairs and in the groin, and engages in more face-slapping than you're likely to see in a dozen Three Stooges shorts. In short, it's everything that you could want in a movie if you're feeling low on testosterone. Kitano himself is a lot of fun to watch; he's like a low-rent Columbo without network Standards & Practices watching over his shoulder. He's also perpetually broke, mooching and bumming money and cab rides from his colleagues.

The plot is a mess; I've watched the film three times now, and I'm still not sure what's going on in the central drug crime conspiracy. This film obviously used The Big Sleep as a model of clarity. World-weary and impatient Det. Azuma, in finest cop/buddy-movie tradition, is teaching the ropes to green recruit Kikuchi (Makato Ashikawa), who is completely insufferable and quite funny. They stumble onto a series of drug-related crimes that lead back into the Tokyo police department itself. When things get too close to the brass, Azuma is fired, and he of course takes the law into his own hands. And I mean literal hands; at one point, he disarms a knife-wielding assailant by grabbing the blade. I haven't gotten the willies so bad since that scene in Die Hard with the broken glass!

The relationships between the various characters are highly unclear, as are the drug ring's connections and how the plot progresses. How do they end up with Azuma's mentally ill sister as their prisoner? How does Azuma find the drug ring's hideout? How does he know who they are? I have no idea. Perhaps this is a fault of the translation, because a number of lines do go by without a corresponding subtitle. The film does, however, have the merit of taking Azuma's character to its natural conclusion, ultimately making the audience, who is reveling in his tactics, feel more than a little dirty at the end.

But frankly, if you're considering a title like Violent Cop, you're not looking for a date movie or character development or even much of a plot. You're after mayhem, gunplay, endless chases on foot and by car, physical violence of every type and more mayhem—all of which this film delivers in ample proportions. On that count it's sure to satisfy.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The non-anamorphic picture generally has good color. Blacks are lacking in depth, ranging to a medium grey at most. There seems to be a framing problem in certain early scenes, since heads are cut off at the nose. The final sequences, in an old warehouse are beautifully shot and evocative as a blood-soaked haiku. Very little picture damage is visible, limited to a few white spots here and there. Overall, an acceptable picture (except in the misframed sequences) but no great shakes.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The 2.0 mono has decent range. The music comes through fine and without distortion, with a nice sax score that give the film a noirish feel (though it's often interrupted by a strident hiphop). What I at first took to be noise upon closer examination turned out to be faint city background sounds, which can be heard throughout almost the entire film. There is minimal hiss.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 6 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Production credits (cast and crew)
Extras Review: We get a Japanese (English-subtitled) theatrical trailer in 1.66:1, and very brief filmographies for Kitano, Sano and Kishiba. There are also two screens of production credits for cast and crew. The chaptering (SIX chapters?!) is wholly inadequate. Nothing exciting here, folks, move along, nothing to see, move along. Or Det. Azuma will break your knees.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

The film delivers nicely on its title promises. Beyond that, however, there's little to recommend the disc. The movie doesn't make much sense, and it's given a lackluster transfer (including serious misframing) which make this, at best, a rental for High Body Count Night with the guys. For that, it's prime stuff.


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