Onibi - The Fire Within
(Region 1 Edition)

Starring: Yoshio Harada, Reiko Kataoka and Sho Aikawa
Artsmagic Ltd
RRP £19.99, US $24.95
ATU 018
Certificate: 15 (UK), Not Rated (US)
Available 25 July 2005 (UK), 26 July 2005 (USA)

After a stretch in prison, ex-yakuza Noriyuki Kunihiro is glad to be free. Fed up with his previous life, Kunihiro has decided to go straight. He meets up with his old friend Tanigawa who is more than keen to get him back into the yakuza fold. Kunihiro makes it clear that he wants to go straight, but things don't seem to be going as smoothly as he'd hoped. He soon discovers that many obstacles, not least Tanigawa, stand in his way...

Onibi - The Fire Within from 1997 seems, on the surface, to be a bit of a clichéd movie. An ex-yakuza hitman called Noriyuki Kunihiro is released from prison. It would seem that the stretch inside has done him the world of good as he has decided that he wants no more to do with his yakuza past. However, it's not long before one of his old friends has tracked him down in a bid to get him back into the fold. It's the old 'bad guy, tries to go straight but can't free himself from his past' storyline.

Kunhiro falls in love with a pianist, Asako Hino, who asks him to acquire a gun for her so that she can kill her old boyfriend. Smitten with her he agrees and sets about training her to use the gun. But, when it comes down to it, it would seem that she is not a killer.

The storyline surrounding an ex-criminal trying to change his destiny has been tacked countless times (Onibi is not a million miles from Hollywood's 1993 Carlito's Way - if you take away the girlfriend wanting to commit murder element). Ultimately, this sadly means that the viewer is probably going to guess how everything will conclude before the first ten minutes are up.

In truth this movie is a little too disjointed and a little too predictable to be totally satisfying which sadly means that it is fairly average viewing.

Extras include an interview with the director, commentary with Tom Mes and the usual cast and crew biographies.

Nick Smithson

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