Battles Without Honor
Godfather, Forget Goodfellas, Forget Once Upon a Time Anywhere."
Battles Without Honor & Humanity
Without Honour & Humanity: The Yakuza Papers
Bunta Sugawara, Hiroki Matsukata, Tatsuo Umemiya, Tsunehiko Watase,
Nobuo Kaneko, Goro Ibuki, Tamio Kawaji, Eiko Nakamura, Hiroshi Nawa, Kunie
Time: 99 min.
"Best Film Of The Year", this nihilistic chronicle of gang wars
that ravaged Hiroshima in post-war Japan centers around the character Sugawara,
and was based on the prison diary of a yakuza member involved in the wars.
This title is available at HKflix.com
REVIEW: Forget Godfather, Forget Goodfellas, Forget Once Upon a Time
Anywhere. This is it. The end all, be all of gangster movies.
Most have never heard of Fukasaku the man who did a little movie called
Battle Royale that only a few people ever have seen and said was decent.
Sarcasm aside long before Mr. Fukasaku pretty much blew everyone away with
Battle Royale he was considered the man who made some of the best Yakuza
based movies of all time. His Citizen Kane of these films was the Battles
Without Honor & Humanity series centered around post-war Japan just
after the bombings.
The movie literally opens up with about 10-15 freeze frame title card introductions
to the characters which you will only catch about half of as they wiz by
while the movie gets underway. This however is not a problem as you will
become familiar with the characters afterwards as they talk to each other
and constantly refer to each other by name. Besides you'll probably be
as engrossed as I was by the violence taking place which includes people
getting arms lopped off and a hell of a lot of people getting shot of course.
That in particular is one of the great things about Battles and that is
the pacing. Never do the characters sit around for too long and never does
the action and excitement go on so long that you just get tired of it.
Thee ultimate best though has to be the characters. Throughout the series
new characters will be introduced as old ones are killed. "Sakai"
is probably my favorite non-Bunta character in the whole series. Other
characters are introduced throughout like "Takeda" and "Matsunaga"
that are genuinely cool characters. Then their are ones like "Boss
Yamamori" and "Makihara" that will literally have you eagerly
wanting to watch each following sequel to see if they ever get their just
Then of course their is the central star of all the films Bunta Sugawara
playing the character of Hirono who is an ex-soldier turned yakuza. My
first exposure to him as an actor was in another Fukasaku film called Street
Mobster in which I thought he hammed it up to Riki Takeuchi BR2 levels.
None of that in the Battles series though. Bunta's character "Hirono"
is on a level of coolness with Deniro's "Jimmy Conway" from Goodfellas.
Throughout the films other actors will crop up to add their star power
to the series some of whom include Sonny Chiba (Kill Bill), Meiko Kaji
(Lady Snowblood) and Jo Shishido (Branded to Kill) just to name a few.
If I had to think of anything that could be considered bad in the series
or something people generally wouldn't like it would be the filming of
a lot of the action. Fukasaku preferred an in-your-face approach to the
action and was one of the first directors to take the camera off the tripod
in his native Japan. A lot of Japanese movies to this day are shot with
a lot of long takes that make artsy fartsy festival goers warm in the pants.
Overall the action doesn't bother me so I cannot find any problems with
the movies myself other then the fact I can never find the time to watch
all five in a row! Because once you start you'll wanna watch them one after
another to see where the story finally takes you. Then there's 3 more made
afterwards so 8 in total!
SLAXOR'S RATING: 10/10