Director focuses on violent struggle for survival

TOKYO — Helmer-thesp Takeshi Kitano’s next pic will return to the gang genre that brought him international recognition.

The as-yet-untitled pic is skedded for a 2010 bow, with Warner distribbing.

Kitano’s 15th pic as a helmer focuses on a violent struggle for survival in Japan’s Yakuza gang world, with betrayal and revenge major themes.

Kitano also acts in the pic but did not go into detail about his role in Sunday’s announcement. Co-stars are Tomokazu Miura, Kippei Shiina, Ryo Kase, Soichiro Kitamura and Fumiyo Kohinata.

A popular TV comic and sometime actor when he bowed as a helmer in 1989 with “Violent Cop,” Kitano redefined the limits of screen mayhem in his pics, which often centered on gangsters and cops with quick fists and itchy trigger fingers.

In his international breakthrough, “Sonatine” in 1993, he played a Yakuza boss fighting a losing gang war on unfamiliar turf.

In “Hana-Bi,” which won the Venice Golden Lion in 1997, he played a cop on a bloody rampage of revenge after a colleague is wounded.

In his recent efforts, including the 2008 “Achilles and the Tortoise,” Kitano has opted for comedy to lukewarm critical plaudits and indifferent B.O.

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