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Yakuza Tsukamoto (Koji Tsuruta) has just been released from prison and
is looking forward to a quiet life - when the boss of his gang is killed
by a rival gang and names him his successor with his dying breath.
Tsukamoto wants to end the gang war with the rival gang, especially after
he finds out that both his and the other gang are just proxies in a
gangwar Danno clan versus Tokyo Alliance - but figures to not lose face he
has to kill the boss of the rival gang, a task that his second-in-command
(Bunta Sugawara) takes out of his hands on his own initiative, even if it
costs his life.
To bring peace to the region, Tsukamoto figures it's
time to cut ties with the Danno clan, even if that means breaking up with
his blood brother Tsubaki (Ryohei Uchida). Tsubaki soon finds a
replacement for Tsukamoto's gang though, the gang of Miyahara (Tomisaburo
Wakayama), but while Tsukamoto is an old-school Yakuza, Miyahara is a
coke-snorting punk, and his gang a bunch of loose cannons, and thus the
two gangs get into troubles with one another soon enough, troubles that
are only resolved when Tsukamoto alone stands up to Miyahara and his whole
gang, winning their respect if nothing more.
When Miyahara's gang
attacks one of their rival gangs at the Danno clan's request, that rival
gang decides to activate hitman Oobu (Noboru Ando), an one-armed man
hell-bent on killing Danno - yet he fails, but gravely injured he finds a
hiding place with Tsukamoto's gang ... but leaves this hiding place soon
enough out of honour, only to be executed by Danno's men.
Both the Danno
clan and the Tokyo Alliance have ties to high-up politicians who actually
pull the strings - and now they order the gangs to strike a permanent
truce - which means the gangs have to cut off loose ends like eliminating
Miyahara's and Tsukamoto's gang. Only Tsukamoto survives rather by chance,
and now he wants, he needs to have his revenge, his satisfaction, and goes
after Danno himself at an official gathering. Tsubaki, his erstwhile blood
borther and later rival, seems to try to stop him but only gives him
better access to Danno at the cost of his own life ... but while Tsukamoto
is able to slaughter Danno, he - literally - doesn't even get into arm's
reach of the politician behind the whole gangwar, and after he is already
apprehended by the police, the cops step back and let one of Danno's men
shoot him to avoid embarrassement.
Interesting gangster flick
that marries the gangster with a code of honour of traditional
yakuza cinema with the more realistic image of the gangster as a violent
punk born out of economic necessity that Japanese yakuza movies would
adopt in the 1970's, thanks largely to the director of this film, Kinji
On an aesthetic level, this movie is likewise a break
with tradition, leaving behind the highly stylized yakuza-image of old for
documentary-style narrative sequences, dynamic handheld camerawork and
traces of Italian neo-realism every now and again.
That all said,
compared to Fukasaku's yakuza-masterpieces from the 1970's, this is still
a pretty traditional and in a way run-of-the-mill effort, tu it's
interesting to watch it as a transitional film, and above all it's simply
good genre entertainment.