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Beat Takeshi's BROTHER chop chopped for U.S. Distribution

Hey folks, Harry here. I really wasn't expecting this sort of action from SONY PICTURES CLASSICS. After the release of CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON in its native tongue and subtitled, I thought of S.P.C. as a leader in the independent arena. Allowing the MPAA to dictate terms on a Takeshi Kitano film is just wrong. Beat makes his films tough to illustrate points in the same style that Peckinpah used graphic violence. This isn't to glorify, but to horrify. Releasing BROTHER in limited release... to an almost exclusive older set to begin with, staying beside your director and facing down the MPAA is all important, especially when it comes to fighting for Independent Film. Sigh, I was really looking forward to this release too. Oh well.

I'm writing to you so you alert your readers to how the MPAA has castrated the new movie by Takeshi Kitano, Brother. Since you can order the uncut version of this movie on DVD from Japan or Hong Kong with English subtitles maybe you can get Sony Pictures Classics to restore the violence to the DVD release or face the fact that us Kitano fans will just order the DVD from overseas. Here is a list of cuts that I'm 100% about:

1) When Yamamoto (Beat Takeshi) is captured by the Mexican gang he shoots them in the car. When the driver is shot the windshield gets covered in blood. All the blood on the windshield has been cleaned up using digital effects in the US version.

2) When Yamamoto asks Denny (Omar Epps) to kill the Mexican gang leader with one shot and he'll give him $10, Denny just shrugs and the Yamamoto shoots the gang leader in the head bathing the blue wall behind him red. In the US version, the blood on the blue wall has been cleaned up digitally.

3) When they catch the drug dealer that ran off they make him cut off his finger. In the Japanese version you see the finger get cut off, you don't see it in the US version.

4) When Yamamoto's buddy from Japan shoots himself in the head in front of rival Yakuza to prove his loyalty to Yamamoto you see him pull the trigger and blood splatter against the wall behind him. In the US version, you just see the aftermath.

5) When Yamamoto's Yakuza friend back in Japan disembowels himself in front of his leader you see him graphically cut his belly open and get to see his intestines hanging out. In the US version, it's mostly implied.

6) When at a sushi place a couple of Yakuza capture an assassin and stick chopsticks up his nose and push them up his nostrils. In the US version it cuts to black, in the Japanese version you get a point of view shot of the assassin as the chopsticks are push forward up his nostrils as blood shoots into the camera.

These are the parts I remembered but I'm pretty sure I missed a few other things as I saw the uncut Japanese version almost a year ago. A couple of scenes look like they were put into slow motion so they could take out more graphic shots but I'm not 100% sure. It's sad that they didn't just release the movie NC-17 or unrated especially since Sony Pictures Classics were only going to being giving it a limited release. Hopefully future Kitano releases will be released by a company like Lions Gate who have no problem releasing movies unrated.

Jackie Marlow

Readers Talkback
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  • Aug. 2, 2001, 7:29 a.m. CST

    .........fucking stupid

    by talkinghead

    ...thats all i got to say about that

  • Aug. 2, 2001, 7:42 a.m. CST

    Morons...

    by CycLoner

    Damn, not the best Takeshi-flick, but still a very good one. Fuckin' MPAA. On a lighter note, i get to see uncensored flicks in Holland, hehehehe.

  • Aug. 2, 2001, 7:45 a.m. CST

    This Was Supposed To Be Beat's Big Crossover Film

    by mrbeaks

    I guess they just wanted to get it out there regardless of how watered down it is, which will only result in disappointing Beat's US fans, while leaving the uninitiated wondering what the hype was all about. I've been vacillating on whether or not to plunk down $10 to see this, and it looks like Sony Classics just made my decision for me. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a DVD to order.

  • Aug. 2, 2001, 7:46 a.m. CST

    No CHOPSTICKS?!?!?!

    by Average

    Are you kidding? This is a true example of the digital age supposedly coveting practical magic. Digitally cleaning up Brother?!?!? Ugh. it's a shame too...i saw it at the New York Film fest last september (!) reight before CTHD and it blew me away. Not being the avid, Beat fan, i was very impressed. But the issue that gets under my skin is the fact that al this time I've been telling people within earshot about Brother and the infamous "chopsticks" scene. AND NOW THEY CUT OUT THE SCENE?!?!?!? Wow.....for all of you fans, do yurself a favor and wait for Brother on DVD or buy an import. Until then go see out CHOPPER, a movie that not only has balls but was (as far as I know) virtually untouched by Valenti's thug squad for decency and is in my opinion the best movie of the summer. There I'm done.

  • Aug. 2, 2001, 8:19 a.m. CST

    just rented Gonin

    by sundown

    and bought Violent Cop on DVD. Don't think they were edited. Gonin was from a video store and if it was edited I would be scared to see otherwise. The scary thing is the casualness to the violence and the way it comes out of nowhere. I've been in violent situations and he does it as realistically as I've seen. It is colder and detached than any 'acksen' film and as a result more disturbing. I hope they just release his films uncut on DVD.

  • Aug. 2, 2001, 12:13 p.m. CST

    angel you are wrong

    by sundown

    kitanos films are more than gore and splatter and while you throw int he token "I'm against the MPAA" your opinion is meaningless fromt he way you talk about his films its obvious you just don't understand them. Violence is shot clinically in a great many films some good some bad but always to make an effect and it is never a precursor to a good or bad film. Kitanos films show how violence can come out of nowhere and often does. Violence can be mundane too. Watch Sonatine then Gonin and then Violent Cop. You talk about fanboys as if you aren;t one or as if we're stupid and only watch it for the violence. That may be true but only in part. Its easy to turn your nose up and dismiss something with a few sentences. I guarantee many of the people you worship were influenced by Kitano and Fukasaku. Its their clinical approach to violence as opposed to the overly stylized hong kong films that creates real resonance. Or perhaps you would rather watered down shit like MI2 that gives us the message that violence wreaks no true end result no bloody outcome. Its clean and easy. I know Hitchcock would disagree with that. In one film he went out of his way to show how hard it can be to kill a man and he did it quite clinically. PS this site is running slooow..

  • Aug. 2, 2001, 5:14 p.m. CST

    Actually this is very wise in some sense, but yea, in an other,

    by Pips Orcille

    I'm not a Hollywood ass kisser, and being an usher, I've gotten complaints by customers at Embarcadero Cinema, saying "Brother" is offensive and cruel. I find that to be very true, even with human elements in it. Not implying this film must be banned, but there are white people that hate this movie and they turn out to be the most street smart, down to earth people you know. "Do you understand Japanese?" "Yes I understand Japanese, you fucking asshole." Tell me no white person would find this offensive and then get shot the second after. Shit, I feel what the Kitano character is saying and I understand completely. This hooker or girl in Kitano's limbo just simply asks him "So you were poor?" and Kitano tells her she's stupid. The character is arrogant, for crying out loud! I think he has very good morals. He's not an "ewww, I'm sooo evil guy," but shit, someone needs to really give this character Kitano plays a REAL girfriend who truely feels his pain and always asks the right questions. To be honest, I think the solution here is just to abandon all ratings systems and just give a movie recommendations on... a) is the movie for kids b) does it appeal to everyone, etc. MPAA needs Philosophy majors running it.

  • Aug. 2, 2001, 11:12 p.m. CST

    HARRY'S A MORON

    by SierraMountain

    Kitano's use of violence isn't to horrify the audience, it's used to show the level of supressed anger and contained anger in Kitano's characters. He uses sudden bursts of violence during a tranquil or serene mood as a mode to expose what kind of men his characters are. Violence in his movies ar ein no way there to horrify the audience or to give out a corny ass message of "hmm, violence is bad." Remember, in all of Kitano's movies, his character and the characters surrounding him live outside of the norm, outside of society where violence ISN'T looked upon as something of a shocker, but more of a routine and desensitized ritual that comes with their occupations. Violence is just a device Kitano uses to give his films a beat, a rythm, and show how dangerous these men are who reside in his films.

  • Aug. 2, 2001, 11:32 p.m. CST

    BROTHER WAS AWFUL

    by SierraMountain

    The only reason I continue watching Kitano's films are simply because I'm fascinated by the myth of the Yakuza. Otherwise, his films are amateurish and poorly directed abstract art of movies. Now when I say abstract art, it's meant to be a big fucking diss, because everyone knows abstract art really means bullshit art by a bullshit artist who doesn't really know how paint, draw, or sketch. Brother was a terrible movie. If I could give some advice to Kitano Takeshi, I would tell him to hire American crew members and hire screenwriters, not translators. The dialogue in english seemed like a Japanese FOB wrote it. The writing however wasn't the only horrid thing about the movie, the direction was terrible as well. Kitano doesn't seem to have visual coherence or style in his compositions. I think this is in part because he "thinks" framing shots in an unconventional way is being dynamic and fresh when it only tells us that he needs to let his DP do the the compositions as well and not just the photography. As for the acting, well lets just say if there was a Golden Raspberry for an acting category, Omar Epps would take that snazzy little thang home. OF course I don't blame his terrible performance on him, I blame it on Kitano. His lack of direction and inability to give Epps insights into his character was obvious. I dare anyone who DIDN'T laugh towards the end when Omar Epps began hamming it up trying to emote shouting out, "I love you Aniki, I love you man." Shit I half expected the "I love you man" from the Budweiser spots to pop out from the back seat and show Epps some love by hugging him. All in all, if you're intrigued by Yakuza's, you'll tolerate its shittiness, but if you don't care for the subject matter, it'll be a waste of time. You should shoots some pool, play golf, surf, or watch midget porn.

  • Aug. 2, 2001, 11:39 p.m. CST

    AS FOR THE CENSORED SHOTS OF BROTHER

    by SierraMountain

    That goes to tell me, Kitano is a terrible filmmaker with terrible judgement. The censored scenes are better off left that way because it lets the audience create those gruesome images in our imaginations. The most painful and terrible acts of violence in movies come from scenes of implied violence. And I thought all along, the tasteful and restrained cutaways of those violent scenes were intentional. The chopstick up the nose scene cut to black with the scream of a man and that was painful for the audience. For us to have actually seen it, it would have generated laughs of how merciless and careless the movie was witht he violence.

  • Aug. 3, 2001, 1:14 a.m. CST

    Brother in the UK

    by Meat Takeshi

    Brother was passed by the BBFC with no cuts when it was submitted for a theatrical certificate, likewise for the video/dvd release on the 20th August. In related common sense news Battle Royale was passed without cuts for its 14th September release but has yet to be submitted for a video/dvd certificate.

  • Aug. 3, 2001, 3:33 a.m. CST

    what about Tatyana Ali?

    by walterpaisley

    Did they digitally remove her from the rest of the film also? She's barely in the movie!!!

  • this totally sucks. Why don't they just cut out all the violence, replace Takeshi with Mathew Lillard, put a Destiny's CHild song on the soundtrack and release it as a teen buddy flick. WIthout the violence - and the direct visceral experience of watching it unfold, Takeshi loses his impact. His films are about violence - about how it really is to be involved in a violent lifestyle - and he pulls no punches in characterization either - this is not Arnie-violence. Takeshi takes no prisoners. In case anyone hasn't seen Fireworks (a far, far, far superior film to Brother), none of his characters gets to ride off happily into the sunset. Ther is violence and thereis the cost of violence which, in Takeshi's world, is always very very high.

  • Aug. 3, 2001, 6:21 a.m. CST

    re: sierra mountain

    by BatVomit

    "Now when I say abstract art, it's meant to be a big fucking diss, because everyone knows abstract art really means bullshit art by a bullshit artist who doesn't really know how paint, draw, or sketch." That is the most ignorant, drooling, moronic, retarded, and fucking idiotic comment I have ever read. You obviously know nothing at all about art or you wouldn't spout off such a lame statement like some slobbering cerebal palsy victim. I happen to be an artist. I do know how to draw, sketch, and paint and I do all of them very well and I also paint abstractly. For you to say that abstraction is bullshit is really insulting to me personally. Any artist who has had any sort of training will know how to draw and paint whether they choose to do so abstractly or not. My paintings are very gestural and violent and there is no way that I could invoke the feeling and messages that I wish to invoke with a realistic approach. Abstraction, for me at least, allows for pure expression. I suggest that you read some books on art or visit some museums or perhaps enroll in some 20th century art history courses at your local univesity before making yourself look like a moron again.

  • Aug. 3, 2001, 6:31 a.m. CST

    BROTHER is classic

    by harosa

    "Brother" is a clasic in the gangster film ranks. It's up there with King of New York and Ghost Dog. It's a total shame that it's being cut in terms of it's violence, unlike these cookie cutter films like Tomb Raider where so many bullets are shot and no one gets hit, this movie shows you what really happens when guns are let off in a room full of people. This movie also deserves credit for not degenerating into cliches in its portrayals of Mexican and Black kids in gangs, it gives them some loyalty and dignity in the way they respect Kitano's character and follow his orders.

  • Aug. 3, 2001, 6:34 a.m. CST

    How did I see this uncut?

    by harosa

    How come I saw the unedited version at a screening held by the Village Voice in NYC last month? This was a Sony Pictures screening, I believe. It was official, I know that.

  • Aug. 3, 2001, 7:14 a.m. CST

    Bring Back the Code

    by Simi Valley Tom

    They should just bring back the Hollywood Code of Decency. Movies were just as good, if not better, during the Golden Age of Hollywood when the Code of Decency was working and all scripts had to go through the Catholic Legion of Decency and the Protestant Film Office. We don't need all this mindless, graphic violence, sexual perversion, foul language, and explicit nudity. God bless John Ford and Frank Capra. Takeshi Kitano doesn't have enough talent to polish their tombstones! And, any critic who thinks otherwise is full of crap!

  • Aug. 3, 2001, 7:41 a.m. CST

    Bat Vomit - abstract art

    by mavfan

    While I don't think all abstract art is worthless I think we need some perspective. There were thousands of painters who painted in a "realistic" style in the past few centuries and only a handful have recognition as masters of their craft, the rest have been forgotten. It just so happens that in the past century or so we've been exposed to many many abstract artists, most of whom will have been forgotten in another two hundred years (the ones that haven't been forgotten already). We're in an age where we're seeing all the abstract stuff, good and bad, we arent' exposed to the bad stuff painted in the 1750's) It's the "put a toilet against the wall and call it art" that I find amusing, those people probably couldn't "draw Winky"! I just sneezed, that's art!, I took a dump, that's art too! Yeah, but it's BAD art.

  • Aug. 3, 2001, 12:21 p.m. CST

    idiocy

    by blappie

    these foolhardy ramblings about 'talentless abstract artists' really piss me off. I'm guessing the median age of people posting this is 19-20, probably experimenting with hallucinogens, working at a crappy temp job, and growing mildly cynical living in a musty-smelling room in Grandma's basement. Agreed, there is some art and some artists who are a joke and agreed putting a toilet against a wall may raise an eyebrow or two as to the pure definition of art HOWEVER a ridiculous blanket statement like 'all abstract art is bullshit' only reveals the depths of your uncultured ass. That's just some uninformed post-adolescent surly-man pose. It means nothing. Oh, another thing that means absolutely nothing is comparing Takeshi Kitano with Ford and Capra. 'He's not fit to clean their tombstones'? Huh? I like ford and capra as much as the next guy but you're talking different eras, different genres, different technologies. The comparison is feeble. It's like saying 'James Ellroy couldn't polish Jane Austen's tombstone'. It's bizarre and disjointed and frankly, a bit perverse. And another thing, have any of you people dissing Kitano ever seen anything other than Brother? Have any of you blathering about his use of violence and defining him as a purely violent filmmaker seen Kikujiro? No? Didn't think so. Shut the fuck up.