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Bullet Ballet (1998)

Hisashi Igawa , Shinya Tsukamoto , Shinya Tsukamoto  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Hisashi Igawa, Shinya Tsukamoto, Kyoka Suzuki, Kirina Mano, Takahiro Murase
  • Directors: Shinya Tsukamoto
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dolby, Anamorphic, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Arts Magic
  • DVD Release Date: February 22, 2005
  • Run Time: 87 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007989K2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #306,157 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars BULLET BALLET marks a change for Tsukamoto August 18, 2005
The success of his first major film, the experimental, surrealistic Tetsuo: The Iron Man, hurled Shinya Tsukamoto into the midst of the world film scene. With a slew of comparisons to David Lynch, critics hailed Tsukamoto as one of the greatest "style-over-substance" directors of our time: an apt description, as practically all of his early films are brilliantly shot and put together while their stories often feel ever so slightly lacking. With BULLET BALLET, Tsukamoto begins to challenge this mold and emerge as one of the world's greatest storytellers. Still, BULLET BALLET is only his first real attempt at putting story and character on an equal level with polish and style, and as such makes more than a few missteps.

Goda (Shinya Tsukamoto) is a successful director of television commercials - very loosely based, Tsukamoto states, on a man who in the 1970s was called the "Kurosawa of TV commercials" - with a serious, seemingly normal girlfriend of ten years. In the films first few minutes, however, Goda returns home to find her dead: suicide. The police discover that the fun she used was obtained from ties she had, unbeknownst to Goda, with the underworld. Goda's life is instantly changed, though for a short while he is able to keep up appearances, as his entire life is taken over by his urge for vengeance against those who provided his girlfriend with the means to kill herself. For the first (and strongest) half of the film, Goda's life sinks to one objective that controls his every action: obtaining a gun. Along the way, he comes upon the young thugs that he feels caused his girlfriend's death, including another young woman, Chisato (Kirina Mao), who will in many ways echo the behavior of Goda's late lover.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I wouldn't compare it to ballet, but it is beautiful October 5, 2008
Shinya Tsukamoto ranks up there with the most important Japanese filmmakers working today, along with Miike, Sion Sono, and still prolific Kitano. "Bullet Ballet" is a return to the dark imagery and grainy, video-like metropolis-scape of "Tetsuo: The Iron Man", only more realistic and familiarized--this is the cyber-punk that could exist in the back alleys of your own town.

A man obsesses over getting a gun after his girlfriend kills herself with one she was holding for a gang. Specifically, he wants her gun, but a gun of its same type will do. Meanwhile, the gang and he keep running into each other, with violent and abusive results, until eventually his obsession with the gun and their need to protect themselves from the violence of the city merge their paths into violent mayhem--and stark, abject beauty.

The sexual overtones of the movie are quite obvious, while the stated theme of "man's need to create violence" is a little more subtle. One thing I really liked about this movie is that although it's quite stylized, like most maverick Asian entertainment out there, Tsukamoto shows a real grasp of montage and experimental filmmaking on top of the narrative continuity needed to direct the audience's emotions as much as compel their intellect. Some of the most memorable uses of back-projection, intercutting, and hand-held cinematography are used with a movie that is not afraid to take a contemplative moment aside to build real tension. It's not just eye-candy, this one. Of course, neither is anything else of Tsukamoto's I've seen, but sometimes a movie is so well-done it bears worth mentioning.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant bullet ballet. April 29, 2008
Bullet Ballet (Shinya Tsukamoto, 1998)

There's something wonderfully dynamic about Shinya Tsukamoto's movies, a feeling that even when everything on camera is still, there's a great deal of motion in the background, that if the camera were turned just a few degrees, everything would be flying along at warp speed. It's a wonderful effect, almost to the point where I'm starting to like Tsukamoto better than Takashi Miike. Almost, mind you, but Bullet Ballet goes a long way towards drawing the two of them even.

As the film opens, Goda (Tsukamoto) discovers that his finacee has committed suicide, shooting herself. Goda becomes obsessed with handguns, and his obsession is sharpened when a gang of thugs, led by the ruthless and beautiful Chisato (8˝ Women's Kirina Mano), starts preying on Goda. His fascination with guns, and his fantasies of revenge, become inevitably entangled, even as he finds himself more and more attracted to Chisato.

As with all of Tsukamoto's movies, this is not a film you want to watch if you're just looking for an easy, linear, turn-your-brain-off romp. There is a great deal under the hood here, as with even the most mainstream of Tsukamoto's films, which is is emphatically not. Still, it is an action film (or, at least, a parody of one), and so sometimes it feels like that. But keep paying attention, and you'll get a lot more out of it. Tsukamoto has a thing for trying to get inside the mind of what mainstream humanity would consider the deviant; in this case, it's Goda's all-consuming gun obsession. (Note that Tsukamoto's philosophy in this regard tends to bleed over when he works with other directors; witness, for example, Shimizu's Marebito, so far different from Shimizu's other films, or his multiple collaborations with Takashi Miike.
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