Dolls is a tragedy wrapped up in a very stylish and atmospheric cocoon, allowing the audience to be swamped by its sadness, but without ever letting go off the beauty that surrounds it.
Kitano's humor is simple, somewhat childish and often improvised, but thanks to the typical editing and his superb comical body language it works wonders.
Fireworks is a real delight. It's a simple, accessible film but with enough unique elements to keep you surprised and interested. The film is also the perfect showcase for Kitano's versatility.
The good thing is that it's not all just an ode to himself, Kitano doesn't mind making some fun of himself or the people around him.
Even though the films Kitano made prior to Sonatine aren't bad at all, Sonatine is the first true testament to his genius.
The first hour or so provides a solid setup, introducing all characters and factions related to the Yakuza gang, while the final 30 minutes are the icing on the cake.
Glory to the Filmmaker is one big happy mess of filmmaking, referencing many other directors, resembling many more, but defying them all by making something totally unique and totally Kitano.
A must for Kitano fans and probably art fans alike (as all paintings were made by Kitano himself and are apparently based on existing paintings).
Brother is not an American Kitano film, it's a Kitano film set in America. If you liked Sonatine, Hana-bi and 3-4x Jugatsu then you really can't go wrong with this one.
The good stuff
A more than respectable finish to Kitano's Outrage trilogy. It's like watching chess, only without knowing which pieces are controlled by what player. Slick, harsh and with a wry sense of humor, Kitano remains the master of the Yakuza film.
Outrage: Beyond falls just a little short of its predecessor. Because of the fact that it feels like the middle section of a full-blown trilogy the ending isn't as convincing as it could've been.
The only genuine comedy feature Kitano ever directed. While comedy it a big part of his oeuvre, it tends to come second in his films. Expect plenty of dry, absurd and crazy comedy sketches, held together by a slim storyline. It's funny though and that's what really matters. Not Kitano's best, but thoroughly entertaining.
Never watched a classic Zatoichi, even then it's obvious Kitano made this character and this franchise his own. Some very typical comical elements, a superb soundtrack, short bursts of stylized violence and Kitano taking up the lead. It's everything you'd expect from a Kitano film, only set in world of samurais and blind masseurs.