"It's got the right mix of style, substance, seriousness and insanity."

- Equinox21

Gonin (1995)

AKA: The Five

Director: Takashi Ishii

Writer: Takashi Ishii

Producer: Kazuyoshi Okuyama

Cast: Koichi Sato, Masahiro Motoki, Jinpachi Nezu, Kippei Shiina, Naoto Takenaka, Takeshi Kitano, Kazuya Kimura

Running Time: 109 min.

Plot: See Review below.

Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com


EQUINOX21'S REVIEW: In 1995, stylish director, Takashi Ishii, brought us a great crime/yakuza piece called Gonin (The Five).  It revolved around a disco owner convincing 4 other guys to go along with him in a planned heist of the local Yakuza thugs for over 100 million yen (something like $1,000,000 in cold, hard cash).  The heist is successful, however, the Yakuza, obviously perturbed at the theft, send out 2 hit men (one of which is played by Beat Takeshi) to kill The Five.

This movie has a lot going for it.  One thing that I loved was the delusions of many of the characters at various points throughout the movie.  Whether it comes in the form of hallucinations or simply outright insanity, it makes this a far from normal gangster/theft/revenge movie.  The style is yet another thing to behold; Lots of cutting quickly between coinciding events (and back and forth, and back again) and the simply out of this world characters.  For example, there's a guy who dresses as a flaming homosexual in order to attract rich men whom he can turn around and black-mail.  In that persona, he's quite over the top, yet, when he's in his normal clothes, he acts quite normal (if a bit excitable).  I can't say this is the most stylish film I've ever seen, nor can I say that I was really blown away by it for the first third to a half, but it did end up being quite enjoyable.

I'm sure this is on every fan of Yakuza films' list of to see movies, as well it should be.  It's a great addition to the genre.  It doesn't take itself too seriously, nor does it mock itself too greatly.  It's got the right mix of style, substance, seriousness and insanity.