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Bullet Ballet [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Product details

  • Format: Black & White, Dolby, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Arts Magic
  • DVD Release Date: 22 Feb 2005
  • Run Time: 125 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0007989K2
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 242,831 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars
4.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Bullet Ballet (1998) is one of Shinya Tsukamoto's more personal and enigmatic films, attempting, as it does, to merge elements of narrative and character alongside his usual preoccupations with visual metaphor and cinematic experimentation. The manner in which these two very distinctive styles come together isn't always as seamless as many of the director's other films, with the juxtaposition of these two worlds creating a plotline and a sense of character motivation that is often quite hard to follow, no doubt enlivening and alienating the majority of its viewers in equal measures.

Arriving home from work one night, TV commercials director Goda (played by Tsukamoto himself) is shocked to discover that his long-term partner Kiriko (Kyoka Suzuki) has committed suicide. Unable to cope with this tragic turn of events, Goda becomes obsessed with the idea of owning a Chief Special - the same handgun used by Kiriko in her own death. However, after wandering the streets of Tokyo looking for an arms dealer, he stumbles into a dark alleyway where he meets Chisato (Kirina Mano), a waif-like street punk who Goda saved from the path of an oncoming train during a previous encounter. Concerned for her well-being, he tries to give her a lecture but instead, is beaten and robbed by members of Chisato's gang - here led by the charismatic Goto (Murase Takahiro). After this encounter, Goda's pistol obsession becomes inexplicably intertwined with this gang of street punks, until events start to spiral desperately out of control for all involved.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Chaotic, Intense and Far From Conventional 19 Feb 2014
Format:Blu-ray
While being photographed in muted monochromatic tones Shinya Tsukamoto’s follow up to the intense Tokyo Fist is no less chaotic and livewire. A jittery handheld camera and relentlessly claustrophobic cinematography plunge us directly into the miserable life of our protagonist Goda (Tsukamoto), an unremarkable jobsworth shaken out of his routine by the unexplained suicide of his longterm girlfriend. Becoming transfixed with the revolver she used to take her life Goda stalks back alleys and internet forums to try and obtain the same gun. He crosses paths with a young street gang who give him frequent beatings and abuse. As indirect revenge for his girlfriend’s death – and to prove his worth – he is determined to take them down.

This feels like an incredibly personal project for Tsukamoto that plainly explores his own troubled psyche and difficulty accepting his impending middle-age. Continually mocked by the young, cool street thugs, Goda barely mourns the loss of his partner and instead becomes psychotically obsessed with obtaining a handgun and regaining some control and power in his life. There are plenty of interesting themes here but for me, with its stylistic approach and wild ambiguity, it ends up being a collection of memorable scenes with little to get your teeth into emotionally. Within it there are a handful of moments of pure tension and adrenaline, so it’s far from being a chore – but eventually it falls on the side of pulp while often hinting at something of more substance and depth.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars bluray review 30 Dec 2013
By blah^^
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
im not gonna talk much about the movie here.. if you like tsukamotos work (tetsuo , kotoko , snake of june , tokyo fist ....) you know what kinda movie you will get here.

the restoration of this classic movie is well done. like every bluray thirdwindow films has released of tsukamoto.

video quality is absolutly stunning 5/5
audio quality coudlnt probably be better. i like it very much 4/5

a highly recommend this bluray to all fans of japanese cult cinema and to fans of third window films.
check out his other movies as well. this director is really awesome..
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars BULLET BALLET marks a change for Tsukamoto 18 Aug 2005
By M. Sutton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
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. When Goda eventually gets his gun by marrying a Korean immigrant, it is soon taken from him. And here, the film falls apart. the thief, Goto (Takahiro Murase), is forced to kill a random individual (he gets to choose, his boss just wants someone to die), but Goto's choice somehow brings a seemingly random hitman (Hisashi Igawa) upon the young gangsters, and in the film's corpse-laiden finale, shows the young people just how dangerous the stakes are in the "games" they play. This last half works fine on paper, but feels awkward, random, and heavy handed in execution.

Wearing nearly half a dozen different hats (including director, writer, director of photography, lead actor, and editor), Tsukamoto somehow manages, as he so often does, to fulfill his responsibilities with a talent, creativity, and energy that is rare even in films when each of those positions are filled by a different individual. Perhaps most notable, however, is his work as the film's director. As such, he manages to weave together elements of various important directors (both from Japanese cinema of the past and Tsukamoto's own international contemporaries). At different moments in the film, he evokes the wild, handheld style of Kinji Fukasaku, the dream-like beauty of Wong Kar-Wai's contemporary films (a sequence where Chisato invades Goda's apartment might have been a deleted scene from Chungking Express), the artistic experimentation of Seijun Suzuki, and, in some of the film's most memorable moments, a unique, almost neo-realistic, take on Eisenstein's montage theory. The film is beautiful to behold, and the care that Tsukamoto obviously put into every frame and every interaction pays off, even if the logic of the events themselves starts to rip the film apart.

As the film's lead actor, Tsukamoto is as good as ever when he calls upon himself to be the generally dry and cold Japanese everyman, with moments of explosive emotion, that has, after a 10 or 15 year hiatus, become so popular again in Japanese cinema. The rest of the cast is generally good as well, but any nuances they may or may not attempt to add to their roles get swallowed up in Tsukamoto's ultra-stylish world, rendering the characters realistic. Tsukamoto successfully imbues Bullet Ballet with the air of a documentary, and in so doing renders each of the performances invisible.

BULLET BALLET's problems are all inherent in the story, a real pity since the film is one of the closest to Tsukamoto's heart. It took reportedly ten or fifteen years from his original concept to Screen. Sadly, but not necessarily surprisingly, this original concept is the film's ending, where an older, war-hardened assassin teaches young hoodlums the terror of violence by forcing them to experience death; Tsukamoto may have been so blinded by his love for this long-held idea that, in creating BULLET BALLET's concept, he couldn't see what a destructive change of pace and tone it would be for the film overall. Still, BULLET BALLET marks a decided shift in Tsukamoto as an artist, and in a variety of ways is a truly mystifying film. It may not be one of his masterpieces, but it is a crucial and intriguing film in his development as a director.

The film actually deserves a little more than three stars, I'd give it 3.5, but I'd rather round down than up since some of Tsukamoto's other films are more imporant viewing than this one.
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 5 Oct 2008
By PolarisDiB - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
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.

A minor aside, one that has no real impact on the rating or receipt of this film in whole: that one chick who eventually ends up commiserating with the protagonist was scary thin. It was almost an abject horror unto itself to see her down to bra and underwear, looking like a skeleton. Because of the nature of the imagery, I don't know if the choice in that actress was intentional for the body-type or if she was the only one he could get.

--PolarisDiB
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant bullet ballet. 29 April 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
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.) Goda is a fascinating character through and through, and while Chisato originally comes off (by design, I assume) as shallow and jaded, she, too, grips the viewer after a while. Tsukamoto's films are as much studies of character as they are violent fantasies, and this is what separates Tsukamoto from the bulk of thriller directors; there's meat on these bones. Bullet Ballet is a stunning example. ****
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shinya Tsukamoto at his most complex and accessible 1 Mar 2007
By Dansa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
With "Bullet Ballet", one man production crew/writer Tsukamoto departs from the surrealism, horror, eroticism, and overall bleak tone of previous films to venture into more grounded urban drama territory. This less threatening approach combined with the film's gradual hopeful outlook makes for one of Shinya's most accessible films. Yet at the same time it is also one of his most complex and reawarding from a narrative point of view. Revolving around three incredibly complicated and confused characters the film explores and convincingly resolves several difficult themes such as the widening generation gap, the angst of the civilized modern male, and last but not least, the simple quest for purpose. Needless to say this is a tough film to fully comprehend in just one sitting, not because it's vague but because it's so rich in subtle detail that key plot points can be easily missed.

Further complicating matters is the way the initial plot that drives the first half of the film is revealed to only be a small piece of a much larger puzzle; what you are led to believe is the answer is only the beginning of a deeper understanding. The story is mostly from the perspective of Goda(Tsukamoto in fine everyman form) as he searches for a gun in the hopes of solving the mystery of his long time girlfriend's sudden suicide. The film also follows the insecure thug whom Goda's wife was holding the fun for, as well as his implied girlfriend, who just appears to have a deathwish. All three characters are searching for answers, and while only two find the right path; they are all enlightened by the film's conclusion.

Shot in black and white, Shinya's engertic camera work shifts from wild cuts and shaky hand helds, to quiet contemplative moments while the music approrpiately shifts from loud industrial blasts to bittersweet melodies. Tokyo as with all of his films is a character unto itself, as the camera explores everything from neon shopping districts to amusment parks to arcades to the darkest alleys and nightclubs. Despite the dark noir like atmosphere, the film also has many moments of contrasting beauty; though the darker moments aren't so bad looking themselves. A shot of Kirina Mao staring at the rain from a shadowy alley might be one of the most haunting, gorgeous images Shinya has ever shot. While this is mostly a character study, there is still a great deal of fast paced action; whether it be chase sequences, muggings, gang fights, or Shinya waging pyschological warfare on himself alone in his apartment; the tense moments leading up to film's climatic surprisingly puts most horror movies to shame.

DVD Notes-The Enlish commentary is highly informative and interesting, possibly clearing up any questions one may be left with by the ending. The interview with Shinya also provides a great deal of information, as he never seems shy about explaining the meanings behind his movies.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one damn good film 14 Jan 2007
By Artos - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
i have always been a fan of Tsukamoto's bizarre & surreal world, ever since the first time i saw Tetsuo all the way to his new masterpiece Vital. he is one of my alltime favorite directors & Bullet Ballet('98) is his baby.

though i can see how a lot of people could not get into this film, it just does something for me. true, it does have many Tsukamoto trademarks, but the story is also quite orginal, or at least the characters orchestrating the events are. Tsukamoto, who is known for often playing the lead or a supporting character in his films, somewhat takes the lead, but not so much as the film's protagonist, but as the film's storyteller, as we see most of it through his point-of-view(or at least what seems to be his interpretations of whats really going on). the film is often regarded as having two parts to it. the first concerning Goda(Tsukamoto) as the central character, & the second with Goto. i like to think of it more as the film altogether as both Goda & Goto's stories, as though they oppose eachother, they often mirror eachother as well(something that becomes obvious to Goto, triggering him to become even more angry towards Goda)

the film is one of the more abstract of the director's films, or at least the most baffling due to the directions the plot & story take. still worth checking if your into Tsukamoto's previous works.
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