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Bakuto Gaijin Butai

Sympathy for the Underdog
Gamblers in Okinawa / Gambler: Foreign Opposition

Japan 1971
produced by
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

Gambler

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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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.

The 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 ...

 

A 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 ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD