by Chris MaGee
If you're a Takeshi Kitano fan you'll probably already know this story, but indulge me for a minute while I relate it to the uninitiated. In 1988 Kinji Fukasaku (Battle Royale) wanted TV comedy star Takeshi "Beat" Kitano to star in an upcoming comedy he was making at Shochiku about a cop going after a gang of criminals. "Beat" came on board the project, but depending on who you talk to Fukasaku either fell ill or he clashed with Kitano's nine days on/ nine days off working schedule that allowed him to do TV work during production. Either way Fukasaku left the film which left the producers at Shochiku in a bind. Who was going to direct? Half joking they asked Kitano if he wanted to helm the picture, but he called the producers bluff... and well, the rest is history.
Kitano, wanting to distance himself as much as possible from his "Beat" persona rewrote the script and wrote out any comedic elements. The end result, "Sono otoko, kyōbō ni tsuki (That man, being violent)" (known as "Violent Cop" internationally) was a spare, brutal story of Azuma, a police detective who at the best of times doesn't play by the rules, but after his partner is killed and his sister his kidnapped by a gang of thugs he puts Dirty Harry to shame by becoming a force for vengeance... or is he just a force for violence? Not only did "Violent Cop" launch Kitano's second career as an auteur filmmaker, but it also established the onscreen persona that so many of us equate with him: unmoving, ultra-cool, and prone to psychotic and bloody outbursts.
Now all us Kitano fans can watch the process behind his first landmark film thanks to YouTube. A behind-the-scenes documentary of the making of "Violent Cop" has popped up on the video sharing site edited into three sections. The first section is below and chronicles the production from the first press conference through Kitano choreographing the opening scene of the brutal beating of a homeless man by a gang of teenage delinquents and ending up with a bite of lunch after shooting the a lengthy car chase and take down. The two other sections of the doc can be seen here and here. This is must-see stuff for Kitano fans so watch it now before someone yanks it.