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.
Achingly cool. Suzuki's jagged narratives are an acquired taste but I enjoyed this more than Branded To Kill which I found dizzying on first viewing. Loopy and gorgeous in parts with a rapturous use of colour. This one is going to get repeat viewings.
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.
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.
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.