Shozo Hirono is a former Japanese soldier who, following his nation’s defeat in World War II, finds himself in a prison cell in Hiroshima on a murder charge. While behind bars, Hirono gains a loyal friend in fellow criminal Wagasugi, and upon his release Hirono joins Wagasugi in an underworld gang.
This film is not currently playing on MUBI but 30 other great films are. See what's now showing
The Yakuza Papers: Battles Without Honor and HumanityDirected byKinji Fukasaku
Gangster films are like eating junk food. A guilty pleasure I later regret indulging in. We are seduced into empathizing with male suffering in an unjust social order. Fukasaku gives us a world of romanticized assholes; a dark morality tale. But although it might be a fun ride, please don't take it seriously as social commentary. The underside of capital and state power does not equal its opposite.
I forgot just how much fun these movies are. (Bursts of savage violence! Betrayal! Blood!) Fukasaku was going for the visceral and the jugular - so personally, I think anyone trying to keep track of the madness is missing part of the method. This is chaos, an anarchy of souls and men suffering from post-war radiation poisoning, and passing the symptoms along to everyone else. Post-apocalypse.
Forget the chivalry and honor that you often see in japanese gangster movies. The key word here is realism. Fukasaku shows it like it is: brutal, unpredictable and violent. It's a bit of a chore trying to keep up with all the names and affiliations and the politics of it all. The action scenes are the best parts of the picture. They're energetic and fast-paced and they feel real.