Another peak-period product of Suzuki's visual design-addled, genre-blending mind, this bildungsroman follows a reformed Yakuza's violence-spangled ascent toward the higher drift, one that abjures apathy and loyalty equally, embracing the provisional nature of bonds formed in conditions of permanent transition without sacrificing passion and care. Still, it amounts to a far better kaleidoscope than character study.
Suzuki rounds up another fine classic in his yazuka-genre films with very colorful "swinging sixties" production-designing, groovy jazz/rock score, and good gangster action (including the wildest brawl ever shot). However, Suzuki still pushed his limits with Nikkatsu on making his films at that time but managed to make one more before being fired. Could also see this influenced John Woo to make his films, too.
The movie has enough style and personality to inspire five generations of filmmakers, even the narrative itself becomes more of an aesthetic element than a guide to the story. To me this is a brilliant and a rather misunderstood film.
Honestly, I barely followed the plot, but my God this film is a dazzling example of pure style over substance. Everything explodes in color and 'Scope in a delirious mess of eye candy. A glorious film all around.
Like the rest of Suzuki's work I've seen, his use of colour, lighting and space on the screen is applaudable, and certainly makes the film stunning to look at. I do feel however, considering that he made it while under the Nikkatsu Company, that he was still restricted in what he could have made and that it isn't as good as Kagero-za (1981) where he was able to make any film he could.
Criterions description of this one deems it “jazzy”, and I can’t find a more defining or appropriate word to call it. The swooning main theme, the flashy visuals, and the cool detachment of the performers gives it a very 60’s B-movie feel, that works to give it unique style. This style does not entirely work on me however, and I felt the film was cool and nicely stylized, but somehow lacking in my engagement with it.
This is mostly an exercise in style. I can imagine that this was much more fresh in its time, but now that there have been so many films inspired by the yakuza and stories that have used these tropes; it is less special in the story and character departments.
But...the style in it, from the staging, the lighting, the set design, and the cinematography is eye popping is transfixing and impressive today.