Bakuto Gaijin Butai
Sympathy for the Underdog
Gamblers in Okinawa / Gambler: Foreign Opposition
Koji Shundo, Tatsuo Yoshida for Toei
directed by Kinji Fukasaku
starring Koji Tsuruta, Kenji Imai, Tomisaburo Wakayama, Rinichi Yamamoto, Kenjiro Morokado, Noboru Ando, Akiko Kudo, Hideo Murota, Tsunehiko Watase
written by Kinji Fukasaku, Fumio Konami, Hiro Matsuda, music by Takeo Yamashita
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After 10 years, Gunji (Koji Tsuruta) is released from prison, to find
that gangland has changed, and not to his liking, and his own gang has
been reduced down to a handful of loyals in desperate need of leadership.
Gunji's arrival gives them new hope however, and soon enough, one of the
gang kills a boss of the Daitokai gang. Gunji and company are of course no
match for Daitokai, the most powerful gang in town, so they relocate to
Okinawa, where gangs still adhere to yakuza code.
Gunji and friends have
come to Okinawa to take it over, even if they number no more than six, so
they quickly kill boss Gushken (Kenjiro Morokado) and take over his
whisky-running operations, then they go after Yonabaru (Tomisaburo
Wakayama), a one-armed brute whose gang clearly outnumbers Gunji's motley
crew about 10 to one - but Yonabaru is an old-school gangster at heart,
and since he admires Gunji for his guts, he promises to leave his
operations in peace nevertheless, pretty much offering a truce.
third Okinawa boss though is a tougher nut to crack: Hadelma (Rinichi
Yamamoto) is a new school gangster who runs his gang like a business,
doesn't give a shit about any yakuza code, and betrays whoever gets in his
way without remorse. And he has invited Daitokai, the very gang that has
driven Gunji and co from their hometurf, to Okinawa. It all ends in a
bloodshed between the Daitokai gang and Hadelma and men on one side and
Gunji's handful onthe other that leaves noone standing ...
very tired yakuza film from the tail-end of old school yakuza cinema, that
(unlike other films from that time by the director) gives no indication
that Kinji Fukasaku was only one year away from revolutionizing the genre
as such with Street Mobster.
All that Sympathy for the Underdog does is to indicate it's high
time to put the slightly dusty genre formula of old (which the film
follows to the t) to rest and move on - which Fukasaku, as mentioned
above, did ...