Friday, May 1, 2015

Battles Without Honor and need to see these films.

Legendary director Kinji Fukasaku made a series of 5 gangster films, which are in the running for best gangster film(s) ever. That's right, these films are in the same class as The Godfather and Goodfellas. Battles Without Honor and Humanity changed the yakuza genre in Japan and were based on the true accounts of  how gangsters ran things in Hiroshima from the end of the war up until the then, current modern era. He also directed more than a few other great crime films in about a 6 year period. Before Fukasaku,1960s yakuza films were usually moody B&W affairs that emulated American and European film noir. There were also more traditional "ninkyo" films that portrayed yakuza more as wandering gamblers that would usually correct some type of wrong or come into conflict with the yakuza code.In the West Fukasaku is primarily known for Battle Royale from 2000. Before that his campy 1960s Rampo adaptation "Black Lizard" that featured a drag queen, along with acclaimed  author, body builder and ballsy suicidal nationalist, got a limited arthouse and VHS release in the late '80s. And of course everyone  knows The Green Slime and it's theme song from back in the late '60s.

In Japan, Fukasaku is a legendary and highly respected director. In the States, his epic crime films are barely discussed outside a couple books devoted to Japanese cinema.

So folks, all 3 of you that read this, go out and grab this set. For me, these are better gangster epics than the Godfather series or Goodfellas, because they honestly portray gangsters as the worst of humanity and don't serve up power tripping wish fulfillment or glamorize the subject.And make no mistake, I love Goodfellas. It's exhilarating cinema. Fukasaku's films shattered the old style chivalrous ninkyo yazuka films.His film are dense and disorienting. The dvd boxset comes with a map of the crime families and major players. So yeah, sorry, you will learn something about Japanese crime, society and film. But it's soooooo worth it. 

Here's a few pics of the boxset, I'm going to dive into some more Fukasaku crime films and will do some more babbling here when I finish up. 

1 comment:

  1. THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH. I have been going crazy and getting headache, trying to find out IF the Japanese bluray is identical to the France bluray of 1976's KING KONG. YOU just answered it. I have been going fking nuts, searching and searching and searching. Could NOT find anything UNTIL I accidently came across your website. THANKS.