Brother (2000 film)

Last updated
Directed by Takeshi Kitano
Produced by
Written byTakeshi Kitano
Music by Joe Hisaishi
Edited byTakeshi Kitano
Distributed by Shochiku Co., Ltd.
Release date
  • September 7, 2000 (2000-09-07)(Venice Film Festival)
  • July 20, 2001 (2001-07-20)(Japan)
Running time
114 minutes
Box office$15.3 million [2]

Brother (Japanese: ブラザー, Hepburn: Burazā) is a 2000 gangster film starring, written, directed, and edited by Takeshi Kitano. [3] The film premiered on September 7, 2000 at the Venice Film Festival. The plot centers on a mature yakuza gangster who has to flee to Los Angeles, where he unites forces with his little brother and his brother’s gang. [4]


It was the first American co-production directed by Kitano and the first American co-production in which he was an actor. [5]


Yamamoto (Takeshi Kitano) is a brutal and experienced Yakuza enforcer whose boss was killed and whose clan was defeated in a criminal war with a rival family. Surviving clan members have few options: either to join the winners, reconciling with shame and distrust, or to die by committing seppuku. Yamamoto, however, decides to escape to Los Angeles along with his associate Kato (Susumu Terajima). There he finds his estranged half-brother Ken (Claude Maki), who runs a small-time drug business together with his local African-American friends. At the first meeting, Yamamoto badly hurts one of them, Denny (Omar Epps), for an attempt to fraud him. Later, Denny becomes one of the Yamamoto's closest friends and associates.

Used to living in a clan and according to its laws, Yamamoto creates a hapless gang out of Ken's buddies. The new gang quickly and brutally attacks Mexican drug bosses and takes control of their territory in LA. They also form an alliance with Shirase (Masaya Kato), a criminal leader of Little Tokyo district, making their group even stronger. As time passes, Yamamoto and his new gang emerge as a formidable force, gradually expanding their turf to such an extent that they confront the powerful Italian Mafia. Now everybody respectfully addresses Yamamoto as Aniki (兄貴, elder brother). But soon Aniki suddenly loses any interest in their now successful but dangerous business, spending his time with a girlfriend or just sitting silently thinking about something. However, the Mafia ruthlessly strikes back, and soon Yamamoto and his gang are driven into a disastrous situation of no return as they are hunted down one by one.



Brother -- joe hisaishi.jpeg
Soundtrack album by
Released27 January 2001
Genre Stage & screen
Label PolyGram, Silva America, Milan Records [6]
Producer Joe Hisaishi
Professional ratings
Review scores
Allmusic Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svgStar empty.svg [7]

Track listing

1."Drifter... in LAX" Joe Hisaishi 4:22
2."Solitude" Duke Ellington, Joe Hisaishi3:34
3."Tattoo"Joe Hisaishi0:56
4."Death Spiral"Joe Hisaishi1:04
5."Party – One Year Later"Joe Hisaishi4:26
6."On the Shore"Joe Hisaishi1:21
7."Blood Brother"Joe Hisaishi3:37
8."Raging Men"Joe Hisaishi1:19
9."Beyond the Control"Joe Hisaishi1:25
10."Wipe Out"Joe Hisaishi5:26
11."Liberation from the Death"Joe Hisaishi3:52
12."I Love You... Aniki"Joe Hisaishi4:37
13."Ballade" Coleman Hawkins, Joe Hisaishi, Charlie Parker1:53
14."BROTHER" Dean Dinning, Randy Guss, Joe Hisaishi, Todd Nichols, Glen Phillips 4:32
15."BROTHER – Remix Version"Dean Dinning, Randy Guss, Joe Hisaishi, Todd Nichols, Glen Phillips4:15
Total length:49:39


Impressed with Europeans' interest in yakuza, Kitano wrote what he described as an old-fashioned yakuza film. To greater contrast the character against more familiar elements, he set it in a foreign country, choosing Los Angeles as a place-holder. When producer Jeremy Thomas asked Kitano if he was interested in foreign productions, Kitano told him about the script. Thomas promised him complete creative control, which Kitano said he got. Commenting on the differing styles of filmmaking, Kitano said that American productions are more focused on the business side and are less sentimental. Kitano cited their strong pride in their professionalism as positive aspect. [8]


Several scenes were censored for the U.S. release. [9]


At the time of its release, Brother was hyped as Kitano's vehicle for breaking into the United States film market. The film has a 47% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 73 reviews. [10] Roger Ebert, who has praised all of Kitano's films he has seen, complimented Kitano in his review but ultimately rated the film two out of four stars, writing that "Brother is a typical Kitano film in many ways, but not one of his best ones." [11] In his review for Variety , David Rooney wrote, "Kitano frequently tips his hat to the American gangster movie in Coppola-styled scenes of confrontation and carnage. But while many of the action set pieces are enlivened by the director’s customary verve and humor, the plot advances clumsily with the narrative engine continually sputtering and stopping. Characters are so unsatisfyingly developed that the film delivers only on a basic level as a tale of gangster rivalry, greed, elimination and expansion, with its larger themes struggling to register... “Brother” is full of elegant compositions and poised, deliberate camera movement but rarely matches the visual impact of earlier Kitano features." [12] Marc Savlov of the Austin Chronicle gave the film two and half stars out of five, stating, "Kitano's beat is an altogether grimmer affair, laden with dark irony and unexpurgated scenes of violence. It's rougher stuff than most would expect, though not unrewarding in its own horrific way." [13] A reviewer of TimeOut commented, "A film of almost diagrammatic clarity, in which questions of loyalty, honour and, yes, brotherhood are mere pieces on the chessboard." [14]

On his side, Kitano stated in an interview that he was not fully satisfied with the final result of Brother and that he regretted his "Hollywood" adventure which was supposed to bring him a broader audience with a higher exposure. Kitano said he had no intention of shooting outside Japan again.[ This quote needs a citation ]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 "Brother (EN) [Original title]". Lumiere . Retrieved July 11, 2018.
  2. "Brother". Box Office Mojo . Retrieved 2015-01-13.
  3. "FILM REVIEW; Los Angeles, Don't Mess With a Tokyo Gangsta". The New York Times. July 20, 2001.
  4. "Brother (2000)". Letterboxd . Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  5. Corliss, Richard (2001-02-12). "The Unbeaten". Time Asia . Vol. 157 no. 6. Archived from the original on 2001-04-17. Retrieved 2018-11-13.
  6. "Joe Hisaishi – Brother (Music From The Motion Picture)". Discogs . Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  7. Ruhlmann, William. "Joe Hisaishi - Brother [Original Soundtrack]". . Retrieved 2015-11-03.
  8. "Blood Brother". The Guardian . 2001-03-15. Retrieved 2015-09-11.
  9. "Beat Takeshi's BROTHER chop chopped for U.S. Distribution". Ain't It Cool News . 2001-08-02. Retrieved 2015-09-11.
  10. "Brother". Rotten Tomatoes . Retrieved 2015-01-13.
  11. Ebert, Roger (2001-07-27). "Brother". Retrieved 2015-01-13.
  12. Rooney, David (8 September 2000). "Brother". Variety . Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  13. Savlov, Marc (10 August 2001). "Movie Review: Brother". Austin Chronicle . Retrieved 18 February 2020.
  14. "Brother". TimeOut . Retrieved 18 February 2020.