So, Custard of frontroomcinema fame asks and Custard gets! My review of Outrage prompted a question on what Yakuza movies to watch and this happened in my head. Go blahblahblahhead.
5 Yakuza Movies to Watch Before Autoreiji
1. Yojimbo (1961) Akira Kuroswa
No list of Yakuza movies would be complete without a Kurosawa/Mifune film and this one is fantastic. I see no need to tell you about the wonder of Kurosawa.
A ronin without a name plays two warring crime lords off against each other in a small town in need of protection and then stuff happens but I don't want to give spoilers.
A beautiful looking film heavily influenced by hard boiled film noir and westerns and was notably remade as the Clint Eastwood classic A Fistful of Dollars.
2. Tokyo Drifter (1966) Seijun Suzuki
Seijun Suzuki was the significant director in the 'Romantic Gangster Films' movement in the 1960's. Tired of the formulaic plots and he began to portray the yakuza and their code of conduct as similar in world outlook to the salaryman working for the good of the country. In Suzuki's films, the yakuza consume each other in bizarre rituals; attempts to gain total power or climb the ranks of hitmen.
A gang tries to recruit a ronin, he refuses and assassins are sent for him, crosses and double-crosses abound.
The film seems to delight in its mayhem and is highly stylised in its violence, bringing to mind 60's European cinema.
3. Battles Without Honor and Humanity (1973) Kinji Fukasaku
Groundbreaking ultra-violent, documentary style film set in post war Hiroshima from the director of Battle Royale as part of the 1970's move towards brutal realism in yakuza films.
Spanning a period of ten years it follows the tribulations of a minor street thug through the futility of the yakuza lifestyle of constant power struggles and feuds.
Bleak, violent and chaotic this one has been called The Japanese Godfather and is a MUST WATCH. Also called The Yakuza Papers.
4. The Yakuza (1975) Sydney Pollack
Written by Paul Schrader and Robert Towne, directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Robert Mitchum. The Yakuza is a study of a culture clash, Eastern philosophy vs a modernised West and features an intelligent plot for an American actioner of the 70's.
A retired American detective is called to Japan to help an old friend resolve a business conflict with the yakuza and rescue the daughter they've taken hostage.
A fun inclusion, strangely this is the one I think of when I think of yakuza movies despite it being an American movie starring Robert Mitchum that I wasn't overly thrilled with when I first saw it.
5. Sonatine (1993) Takeshi Kitano
Takeshi Kitano almost single handedly revived the yakuza genre in the 1990's with a series of stylised minimalist movies, with Sonatine perhaps his best despite the beauty of Hana-bi.
A world-weary yakuza in Tokyo is assigned to take his clan to Okinawa to help settle a dispute between two factions. Over time, it becomes clear he's been set up, sent to Okinawa so that others can take over his lucrative territory. As his clan dwindles, he plans a revenge.
Sonatine draws the viewer in from the beginning, evokes the whole range of emotions, and whilst its characters are yakuza, it's by no means merely a yakuza film, it's so much more.
There you have it Custard and friends. 5 yakuza movies you should see instead of Autoreiji. Let me know what you think in the blahs.