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).
Continually in the doghouse with department brass, maverick detective Azuma puts his badge further at risk when he sets his mind on revenge after a fellow cop turns up dead at the hands of a yakuza enforcer.