Kitano Takeshi starting making films relatively late in life, but with this fourth feature in four years time - a contrary parody of the gangster film - he is proving to be one of the most original talents of contemporary Japanese cinema.As in his first two films, Violent Cop and Boiling Point, 'Beat Takeshi' himself plays a leading role in Sonatine asYakuza leader Murakawa, who has a reputation as one of the most violent gangsters in Tokyo. When a big job in Okinawa almost goes wrong, he retreats with several gang members to a hiding place by the sea. It is not clear whether he is preparing for a major battle or has had enough and wants to stop for good. His men don't find out either and he may not even know himself; he doesn't let on what is really going on behind his poker face. The gangsters, completely out of place in an empty and tranquil landscape, try to kill time with absurd, occasionally lethal games.Kitano again plays several trump cards in Sonatine: his inimitable stoic acting, a minimal and clear style, an unpredictable rhythm and absurd humour. Together, these ingredients provide a very powerful film.