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Cop Kuno (Bunta Sugawara) is best friends with yakuza Hirotani (Hiroki
Matsukata), and not just because he bribes him, either, but because he
believes there is much good left in him. This is because Kuno always warns
him about raids, lets his men off the hook repeatedly, gives Hirotani
advice on how to stay out of the police's hair and still run a ciminal
organisation, and most important of all, he helps Hirotani spoil the land
deal the rivalling Kawade organisation and their mentor assemblyman
Tomayasu were planning to strike with the Nikko oil corporation. Kawade
doesn't like that, so before long the city has a gangwar onto its hands -
but because Kawade has as much friends on the police force as Hirotani,
the police refrains from interfering ... until a new man from
headquarters, Lt Kaida (Tatsuo Umemiya), is made head of the task force to
end the yakuza wars, a man who isn't on any payroll, who outrightly
refuses bribes, and who goes against cops on the force who accept bribes,
cops like Kuno.
Lt Kaida knows how much Kuno is involved with Hirotani,
so he has Hirotani's place raided behind Kuno's back - which eventually
makes Kuno fall out of favour with Hirotani. And then Kuno is even
suspended from his job ...
Kaida puts the pressure on Hirotani's boss
who has just been released from prison, and he ultimately orders Hirotani
and his men to become part of rival Kawade's gang. Hirotani of course
refuses, and eventually he holes himself up in his house with his most
loyal men, hell-bent to shoot it out with the police. Now Kaida wants Kuno
back, because Kuno is pretty much the only cop who can talk Hirotani into
giving up. Ultimately, Kuno succeeds even, but has to shoot Hirotani, the
best friend he ever had, in the process ...
Five years later, Lt Kaida
has quit the force and accepted a job at the Nikko Oil Company, curiously
enough the very company involved in the land deal that started the whole
mess. Kuno meanwhile has staid with the force, but has been degraded to
patrolman duties - and is ultimately killed very unglamourously in a
Very nice and mean gangster picture in
which director Kinji Fukasaku, whose distrust in authorities is just
as strong as his distrust in yakuza, refuses to even draw a line between
the titular cops and thugs, refuses to make a distinction between good and
evil - and he tells a good and highly original story just because of that.
And even the film as a whole might not be as dynamic and as compelling as
his yakuza masterpieces like Street
without Honour and Humanity and Graveyard
of Honour, this is still a highly watchable, intelligent and at
the same time entertaining genre flick.