One of the oldest organized crime syndicates on this planet, the Japanese yakuza can hint their origins way back to the seventeenth century. In cinematic kind, the yakuza style has undergone a number of iterations relationship again to the silent period.


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Early yakuza movies tended to deal with Robin Hood-esque characters, whereas the style’s Golden Age, the Nineteen Fifties and Nineteen Sixties, noticed the emergence of Hollywood-inspired yakuza movies made by Nikkatsu. Some of Japan’s best auteurs, akin to Takeshi Kitano, Kinji Fukasaku, and Seijun Suzuki, all grew to become internationally acknowledged filmmakers as a result of their brilliance in directing yakuza movies.

10 Pigs And Battleships Uses The Yakuza Genre To Tackle American Imperialism

Shôhei Imamura’s fifth characteristic, Pigs and Battleships, was his first main success and aided in establishing Imamura as a significant determine within the rising Japanese New Wave movie motion. A satirical comedy yakuza movie, Pigs and Battleships criticizes the impression of American imperialism on Japan. The American occupation of Japan not solely affected Japanese politics but in addition precipitated a schism between conventional Japanese tradition and the newfound inflow of American client tradition.

The extremely controversial Pigs and Battleships comprises considered one of cinema’s most audacious climaxes that’s equal elements hysterical and poignant. However, as a result of movie going over finances and working over time, Imamura was banned from directing for 2 years.

9 Tokyo Drifter Pushes The Yakuza Genre Towards The Avant-Garde

As the Nineteen Sixties progressed, Nikkatsu dangerous boy Seijun Suzuki’s cinematic model grew to become more and more erratic and surreal, a lot to the dismay of studio executives. Despite warnings to tone down his model, Suzuki pushed Tokyo Drifter to new heights of surrealism and absurdism.

A deconstruction of yakuza style conventions, Tokyo Drifter is a postmodern amalgamation of a yakuza narrative combined with components taken from musicals, comedies, and westerns. The movie’s pop artwork aesthetic, attractive manufacturing design, magnificent shot composition, and eye-popping use of shade make Tokyo Drifter a really distinctive yakuza expertise.

8 Violent Cop Makes Dirty Harry Look Tame

Takeshi Kitano shocked audiences in 1989 along with his directorial debut Violent Cop. Kitano was considered one of Japan’s most well-known comedians through the Seventies and Nineteen Eighties. This made his choice to direct and star within the viciously brutal Violent Cop a shock to many.

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A movie that makes Dirty Harry look tame, Violent Cop depicts a ruthless detective’s battle in opposition to the yakuza and raises questions as to the nice line between cop and felony. In Violent Cop, Kitano debuts many parts that will go on to develop into staples of his filmography akin to darkish humor, bursts of graphic violence, impeccable shot composition, and a deadpan aesthetic.

7 Battles Without Honor And Humanity Is The Japanese Godfather

Kinji Fukasaku’s Battles Without Honor and Humanity is usually known as the Japanese Godfather and is extensively thought of one of many best Japanese movies ever made. Fukasaku directed a string of iconic yakuza movies all through the Seventies and had a late-career resurgence with the smash hit Battle Royale.

Battles Without Honor and Humanity proved so commercially and critically profitable that it launched a franchise that now contains eleven movies in whole. The movie focuses on the politics of being within the yakuza and the way in a corporation supposedly constructed upon honor, everybody is definitely solely out for themselves. In the yakuza life, honor is a delusion that doesn’t actually exist.

6 Drunken Angel Becomes The First Post-War Yakuza Film

Akira Kurosawa is arguably Japan’s best filmmaker, and he’s actually Japan’s most well-known director internationally. Although his identify has develop into synonymous with the samurai style, Kurosawa labored in a plethora of genres, together with yakuza motion pictures.

Drunken Angel was the primary main post-war yakuza movie and depicts the connection between a health care provider and an ailing yakuza. The sickly yakuza is performed by Toshiro Mifune. Drunken Angel marked the primary of sixteen collaborations between the long-lasting actor and seminal filmmaker. Like many Kurosawa movies, Drunken Angel has develop into a time capsule of the struggles of Japan recovering in a post-war world.

5 Sonatine Is A Tragically Beautiful Depiction Of The Yakuza Life

Whereas Violent Cop options Takeshi Kitano on the infancy of his directorial capabilities, Sonatine completely encapsulates Kitano in peak kind. Sonatine is a deadpan, idiosyncratic, absurdist story a couple of yakuza who’s uninterested in the meaningless violence and forms of gangster life.

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Much of Sonatine takes place within the aftermath of a violent altercation the place a number of yakuza cover out at a distant seaside home and revel in life away from their felony life. The movie operates with such freedom, using the powers of cinema to their most capability. Sonatine is clearly influenced by filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard and Seijun Suzuki. However, Kitano makes use of these influences to craft a movie that’s completely his personal.

4 Branded To Kill Got Seijun Suzuki Blacklisted For Ten Years

Following Nikkatsu’s immense displeasure with Tokyo Drifter, Seijun Suzuki was punished with even smaller budgeted tasks and was forbidden from taking pictures in shade. With Branded to Kill, Suzuki rebelled but once more, crafting what’s now thought of an absurdist masterpiece.

Branded to Kill was deemed incomprehensible by Nikkatsu executives, who refused to launch the movie in any respect. This led to a lawsuit that Suzuki gained, nonetheless, his contract was terminated and he was unable to direct a movie for ten years. Another deconstruction of the yakuza style, Branded to Kill options an especially free narrative construction, blatantly discontinuous enhancing, absurdist comedy, and an abundance of surrealist imagery.

3 Kurosawa Channels Hollywood Film Noir In Stray Dog

Inspired by the seminal American documentary-style movie noir The Naked City, Akira Kurosawa’s Stray Dog is a yakuza masterpiece that mixes a number of sub-genres of crime drama. Stray Dog infuses components of neorealism, movie noir, police procedural, and buddy cop movies to craft a story about two cops who should monitor down considered one of their stolen weapons.

Similarly to Drunken Angel, Stray Dog astutely captures the painful years of post-war Japan. One of the movie’s most poignant themes is that social situations trigger folks to resort to a lifetime of crime out of desperation. In Stray Dog, this entails a soldier who turns to the yakuza after struggling to reacclimate himself to civilian life.

2 Hana-bi Wins The Golden Lion At Venice International Film Festival

Hana-bi, recognized within the United States as Fireworks, is Takeshi Kitano’s magnum opus. The apex of his directorial abilities, Hana-bi took dwelling the distinguished Golden Lion at Venice International Film Festival. Although Kitano had directed a number of movies at this cut-off date that had acquired substantial worldwide acclaim, it was not till Hana-bi gained the Golden Lion that Kitano started to be taken significantly as a filmmaker in Japan.

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Hana-bi revolves round a violent former police detective who borrows cash from the yakuza with a view to assist pay for his spouse’s terminal most cancers care. Like Sonatine, the movie is idiosyncratic, deadpan, and violent, but on the identical time, it’s quiet, profound, and emotionally resonant.

1 Pale Flower Is A Landmark Work Of Art From The Japanese New Wave

Directed by Japanese New Wave legend Masahiro Shinoda, Pale Flower is a fantastically shot and poetically crafted yakuza noir drenched in existential philosophy and nihilistic despair. Pale Flower is a landmark movie from the Japanese New Wave movie motion and was included in Roger Ebert’s Greatest Films listing.

Pale Flower follows a yakuza hitman, not too long ago launched from jail, who turns into obsessive about a mysterious lady he meets at a playing den. The two embark on a self-destructive relationship hell-bent on in search of out bodily pleasure. Drugs, intercourse, playing, quick automobiles, and homicide all ensue.

NEXT: 7 Spectacular Samurai Movies, Ranked



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