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The Yakuza

by Mark Ayala
“Perhaps you’ve heard of the Yakuza — the Poison Fists of the Pacific Rim — the Japanese mafia.” The yakuza! The traditional organized crime of Japan that dates as far back as the 17th century, started off with the good intention of being chivalrous in helping people who truly needed help as a means of rebellion and protection from corrupt officials. Eventually became crooked themselves and by the 20th century, they are are still a strong power in the east-Asian underground. Like American cinema would look into the world of gangs, mobsters, thieves, bootleggers and prisoners as sources of inspiration, so did the Japanese look at the yakuza… Read more


“Perhaps you’ve heard of the Yakuza — the Poison Fists of the Pacific Rim — the Japanese mafia.”

The yakuza! The traditional organized crime of Japan that dates as far back as the 17th century, started off with the good intention of being chivalrous in helping people who truly needed help as a means of rebellion and protection from corrupt officials. Eventually became crooked themselves and by the 20th century, they are are still a strong power in the east-Asian underground.

Like American cinema would look into the world of gangs, mobsters, thieves, bootleggers and prisoners as sources of inspiration, so did the Japanese look at the yakuza for heavy inspiration into their cinema. The yakuza picture is split between two sub-genres: the"ninkyo eiga" or “chivalry film” that shows the yakuza as citizens who go beyond the means of the law and fight with swords as a means of honor and the “jitsuroku eiga” or “docudrama” that shows the grittiness and pain that actually comes with being a criminal. With their loud suits, loud voices, distinct tattoos and brutal manners, they’ve managed to find their way and burn themselves into the history of Japanese cinema and here the films The Auteurs has in their database!

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