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.
Uninviting in its talky and dull gangster politics that connect the action scenes, while its characters and story never deeply arouse the emotions-- even despite its garish, eye-candy colors and jazzy-pop score-- more than for a surface-level connection. It's cool in its look and feel often, but while style can sometimes fill in for substance, it too has to elicit deeply felt emotions. It doesn't here.
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.
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.