Predictable and cliche often in its telling, but unlike The Killing that concentrates fully on the heist procedure in blandish detail, Cruel Gun Story knows when to depict characterization and backstory, and feels much more alive than that Kubrick film, despite the heist itself being secondary, and not a time-consuming setpiece. And unlike some other films in Criterion's Nikkatsu Noir boxset, it holds the attention.
Takumi Furukawa's KENJU ZANKOKU MONOGATARI is a terrific, timeless, tense thriller that no self-respecting Japanese Cinema fan should pass up the chance to see. Think THE KILLING and THE ASPHALT JUNGLE filtered through ultra-cool, wrap-around 60's Tokyo sunglasses--and you might begin to get an idea of what this film has in store for you. This is Nikkatsu Action cinema at its finest!