The key to Violent Cop is not in the violent moments, but in the shots where Detective Azuma (Takeshi Kitano) just stands there. Late in the movie, after he has been thrown off the force and his friend has been killed, he stands in the office of his commander, unflinching, unblinking, unmoving. This is a man whose reaction to all of life has been distilled down to exactly two stances: indifference or violence. There is nothing else there.
The first scene in Violent Cop, easily the darkest and most unforgiving movie Kitano ever made, sets the movie’s bleak tone: a gang of teenaged boys beating a homeless man senseless. At first there’s nothing but the man smiling toothlessly as he eats something (soup?); then a soccer ball comes plummeting into the frame and bashes into his belongings. The camera lingers dispassionately as the kids punch and kick him; when he collapses, they applaud, cheer, and head on home. Azuma (who has been presumably watching all along) spies one of the boys returning to his house, strides in, and tells the kid to turn himself him. "I didn’t do anything!" the boy whines. "You didn’t do anything? Then I didn’t do anything, either!" Azuma bellows, and pounds the kid’s head against the wall.Read more