Yamamoto is a yakuza whose boss has been killed by an adversary clan. Fearing for his life, he decides to leave Japan for the US in order to find his little brother who has been part of a small drug-dealing gang. Yamamoto decides to help him, and thus, a new yakuza clan begins to take form in Los Angeles.
While it is similar to other Takeshi Kitano films featuring yakuzas, Brother is different by its settings and its production. Wether it's for the cast or the crew, it is a japanese-american film where Kitano tried to reach for a broader audience, especially an occidental one, after being praised for works such as Sonatine and Fireworks. This is also the first film produced by Kitano's production company Office Kitano.
Unrelated to the Russian movie of the same name.
This film provides examples of:
- Battle Discretion Shot: As gangsters try to attack the Mafia as an act of revenge over Shirase's death,the whole shootout isn't filmed, and we only see the lighting of the gunshots on the face of a gangster who committed suicide by taking a cyanide pill.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: When the mafia starts to attack Yamamoto's gang, Shirase offers cyanide pills to use in case they get caught.
- Bittersweet Ending: While Yamamoto and most of his fellow gangsters have been killed by the Mafia, Denny manages to run away along with a bag of cash given by Yamamoto.
- Body Wipe: The first interaction between Yamamoto and Denny starts off with a shot of Denny walking into the camera.
- The Cameo: Pat Morita pops up as a poker player.
- Decapitation Presentation: The mafia uses this method when Yamamoto's gang starts to cause them trouble.
- Desecrating the Dead: As Ken takes money from the gang's vault after the Mafia has killed almost everyone, there are multiple dead bodies who are aligned in order to form the japanese character for "Death".
- Dissonant Laughter: Yamamoto has one when he tells a friend that he's sentenced to death in Japan.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: Happens when Yamamoto guns down a driving car which then runs into a barrier and quickly explodes.
- Flashback Cut: When Denny finds out that Ken's brother looks like the same guy who cut his eye, we get a brief cut which reminisces that.
- Foreign Language Title: The french title of the movie is Aniki, mon frère (Aniki, my brother).
- Hidden Weapons: Zig zagged. Before meeting various gang leaders at an office, Yamamoto and Ken decide to hide a gun in a toilet room which Ken will pick later when he'll leave the office. Unfortunately, the toilet room's taken, and Ken comes back to tell Yamamoto that he couldn't get the gun. Yamamoto indicates him that there are pistols attached under the table. He adds that he should always come prepared, before gunning down the gang leaders.
- Heroic Suicide: Kato decides to commit suicide as a proof of loyalty to Yamamoto, after Shirase suggests him to shoot himself in the head. His suicide convinces Shirase to join Yamamoto.
- Hollywood Silencer: It seems that shooting a gun with a pillow placed on the canon greatly reduces the sound of the gunshot.
- How We Got Here: The movie starts off with Yamamoto arriving in L.A. and later on we find out why he got here in the first place.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Yamamoto makes an impressive shootout at a mexican gang base by headshooting everyone without a miss. He even bets 10 dollars to Denny that he'd be able to kill the gang leader in one shot, which he does.
- Meaningful Name: Yamamoto is nicknamed Aniki which means Big brother in japanese, and this name fits Yamamoto's character wether it is litteral (as he is Ken's big brother) or symbolic (Kato considers him to be a big brother figure to the gang).
- Nice to the Waiter: Exaggerated with Yamamoto who tips 100 dollar bills to room service when he's at a hotel (perhaps he thinks that dollars are the same as yens).
- Sole Survivor: Denny, who manages to run away from the Mafia who has killed Yamamoto and his gang.
- The Stoic: Yamamoto manages to keep composure for a big part of the movie.
- Translation Convention: Averted, as the actors actually speak japanese and/or english depending on the context, the best example being Ken who switches between japanese and english for interpreting purposes. There's also some spanish spoken by mexican gangsters.
- Trophy Wife: Marina.
- Oral Fixation: Denny keeps having a toothpick in his mouth.
- Shout-Out: When playing basketball, Kato considers himself to be Michael Jordan. A henchman thinks that he actually looks like Shaquille O'Neal.
- Suicide Is Painless: Shirase assures that taking a cyanide pill is a quick and painless way to die, rather than getting caught then tortured by the Mafia.
- Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Denny and Yamamoto fake a bike-car accident in order to lure a guard and stab him down.