"Fireworks" is a direct translation of the Japanese title "Hanabi," which combines the two words "fire" and "flower." The title was chosen due to the juxtaposition of the calm beauty of a flower, and the burning intensity of fire, which perfectly captures the feeling of this Beat Takeshi masterpiece.
I was expecting quite a different film, one more packed with violence and action, something more along the lines of a John Woo/Chow Yun Fat creation. Instead, this is a calm, understated and emotional film peppered with miniature explosions like...fireworks. The pacing of the film is typical of Japanese storytelling, patient and quiet allowing enough time for a story to build fully and characters to live and die on the screen.
Takeshi gives such a complete performance, saying everything with a glance or a movement. Dialog is almost unnecessary, although when it does come it punctuates the scene fluently. He is equal parts warrior and lover, tender and hard. Kayoko Kishimoto delivers an equally wonderful performance as Miyuki, Nishi's wife, dying of leukemia yet able to charm with a smile.
Visually, the movie is stunning, full of creative scenes and transitions. Takeshi knows when to have the action appear off-camera, and when to focus. The use of nature as an element in the film is beautiful, as the story moves from snow to sea to mountain.
Takeshi "Beat" Kitano is one of Japan's greatest modern filmmakers, and "Fireworks" is one of his greatest film. A stunning film.