Shinji (Ande) and Masaru (Kaneko), almost the Beavis and Butt-head of their school, skive off, mug younger kids and dangle obscene puppets of the teachers outside classroom windows. When one day Masaru gets decked, he joins a gym. But while sparring, Shinji wipes the floor with him and they go their separate ways - Shinji into training, Masaru into a yakuza gang.
Fans of Violent Cop, Boiling Point and Sonatine are going to be a mite disappointed by this slice of teen life. But as it's the first feature Takeshi "Beat" Kitano has completed since he fractured his skull in a near-fatal scooter accident, we should be grateful for any kind of film at all. Moreover, the change of pace proves that Kitano is capable of more than just the quirky, violent thrillers with which he cut his directorial teeth.
Far from a Hollywood rites of passage picture, this is a more bruising encounter. Kitano has always focused on underachievers and this film teems with them - the timid kid, obsessed with a waitress, who becomes a cabby because he's not up to being a salesman; the boxer whose career is ruined by a dalliance with a groupie and a no-hoper steering talented fighters down the same road to ruin that he took. Only a couple of stand-up comics succeed - a reference to Kitano's own double-act.
Kitano cross-cuts with energy and invention, but the boxing has little of the oomph that made Tokyo Fist so strong. Kid's Return is clearly the work of a man either feeling his way back or searching for a new direction.