Going into the Yakuza Papers I really wanted to love it... It has an erratic and dynamic visual style that is just incredibly unique. I loved the film's in your face attitude! However, the plot itself is just so dense and confusing! The fast pace of the film doesn't help. The Yakuza Papers is whizzing by so quick that you never have anytime to get to know any of the characters or even figure out what is happening!
It is very hard to keep up with all the intergang politics and relations, numerous double-crosses, and all the characters, it moves at a frantic pace and it’s just not easy to follow. The violence is overwhelming and somewhere between Spaghetti westerns and Tarantino films in quality. I felt like the film was structurally influenced by Gavras’ Z, especially how the murder scenes are done (from music to timing etc.)
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.
This weekend I watched the film “The Yakuza papers: battles without honor”and this movie had to be one of the most boring movies I ever spent an hour and 30 minutes watching. The major issue I have with this movie is it is very difficult to follow who is who in the movie. It's beyond impossible to know who is when the movie has no character build up to it. The gunshot scenes seemed unrealistic and was very boring.
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.
First of five in "The Yakuza Papers" is very confusing in terms of plot... but VERY STYLISH and so very '70s!!! The gangster elements and visual style make this a '70s companion to Scorsese's early work. Definitely similar in many ways. A sprawling story of crime in the Japan underworld rising up after the war and is as explosive as the Hiroshima bomb that opens the film.
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.