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Takeshi Kitano made his international reputation as the director and star of this super-hard-boiled cop thriller.
As hard-boiled as its title, the film that made Takeshi Kitano's international reputation and still ranks as one of his very best returns to Toronto after a long absence. Before Fireworks and Sonatine made him the auteur du jour, Kitano directed and starred (under his screen name of "Beat" Takeshi) in this nastily entertaining policier as Azuma, the eponymous cop who stomps anyone who gets in his way, from drug dealers to his own partner. "You're violently wild and stupid," his superior berates him, but the unsmiling Azuma, as flinty as Clint, has his own kind of cunning. (Invading the home of a teen who participated in the beating of a homeless man, he metes out punishment before instructing the boy: "Give yourself up tomorrow.") The only person Azuma has any tenderness for is his mentally disturbed sister, who becomes a pawn when the cop is assigned to investigate a drug-related murder and ends up stalking a sadistic yakuza. Percussively edited and scored with cocktail jazz, the grandly entertaining Violent Cop suggests Dirty Harry made by Jean-Pierre Melville in Tokyo. "A wonderfully idiosyncratic thriller, masterfully paced and full of unexpected humour" (Tony Rayns).