Born Jan. 18, 1947, in Tokyo, Kitano got his start in show business as half of the comedy team the Two Beats, which became popular during the 1970s stand-up comedy explosion. His comedic success led to roles in movies, including 1983's Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, in which Kitano memorably played a concentration camp jailer.
In 1989, Kitano added directing to his credits when the helmsman of a picture Kitano was about to star in fell ill. The result -- Violent Cop -- earned him international acclaim. Since then, he has penned, directed, edited or appeared in nearly a film per year, including Boiling Point (1990), Johnny Mnemonic (1995) and Brother (with Omar Epps, 2000).
When even schoolchildren begin to abuse a system on the verge of social collapse, the Japanese government introduces a strict new punishment whereby randomly chosen students are taken to a deserted island and forced to fight each other to the death.