"Beat" Takeshi Kitano's directorial debut, in which our hero stomps around town like a bear with a sore head, bitch-slapping everyone in sight.
Violent Cop was originally conceived as a comedy, before Kitano re-wrote it as a drama, fearing an international audience would miss the subtlety of his comedy acting. I'm not convinced it was completely re-written though - Kitano, accompanied by a theme tune that sounds like something out of Laurel and Hardy, deadpans his way through acts of casual violence, defying you to take it seriously. From head-butting a teenager in his bedroom, to repeatedly slapping a drug dealer in the toilets of a bar, to kicking the shit out of his own sidekick, the violence is unnecessary to the point of farce.
The film's plot is thin at best. Kitano plays Azuma, a poor man's Dirty Harry; a renegade cop dragged into a low-level corruption case involving a small-time dealer called Nito, whose supply line leads back to the police. The case, like Azuma's job, is incidental and he becomes embroiled in a personal vendetta with Nito's henchman, an equally sociopathic nutjob. The film plays out as a classic revenge tragedy, amassing an impressive body count along the way. The characters are little more than cut-outs; a backdrop for the exposition of Azuma's psychosis.
While it's far from Kitano's best work - probably his worst in fact - the seeds of his unique visual style are sown in Violent Cop. But the still, lingering shots, interspersed with explosive violence, which would be used to such devastating effect in later films, are largely farcical here.
Dir. Takeshi Kitano, 1989