Movies

Controlled Chaos: Fukasaku’s Unique Directing Style Immerses Audience in Yakuza World

Controlled Chaos: Fukasaku’s Unique Directing Style Immerses Audience in Yakuza World

MOVIE REVIEW
Yakuza Graveyard (Yakuza no hakaba: Kuchinashi no hana)

    

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama
Year Released: 1976, 2023 Radiance Blu-ray
Runtime: 1h 37m
Director(s): Kinji Fukasaku
Writer(s): Kazuo Kasahara
Cast: Tetsuya Watari, Meiko Kaji, Nagisa Oshima, Tatsuo Umemiya, Hideo Murota, Jûkei Fujioka, Kenji Imai
Language: Japanese with English subtitles
Where To Watch: releasing May 16, 2023, available for pre-order now:
UK - www.radiancefilms.co.uk
US - www.mvdshop.com


RAVING REVIEW: YAKUZA GRAVEYARD, directed by Kinji Fukasaku, takes viewers on a thrilling journey through the life of Detective Kuroiwa, portrayed by Tetsuya Watari. In this mesmerizing film, Kuroiwa grapples with love, loyalty, and the law as he falls for the enchanting wife of a jailed yakuza boss.


Set in the gritty world of the criminal underworld, YAKUZA GRAVEYARD explores the societal ostracization experienced by those of mixed heritage. The pre-credit opening montage instantly grabs the audience's attention, and the film's momentum never lets up. The gripping finale ties Kuroiwa's rollercoaster journey together perfectly.

Watari's performance as Kuroiwa is characterized by his character's unique habit of cracking his knuckles when agitated. Meanwhile, Meiko Kaji, best known for her iconic roles in LADY SNOWBLOOD and FEMALE SCORPION, takes a different approach in YAKUZA GRAVEYARD. Her portrayal of Keiko, the wife of a yakuza boss, showcases vulnerability that deviates from her typical femme fatale image.

The heart of YAKUZA GRAVEYARD lies in Kuroiwa's struggle to navigate his dedication to the law, his loyalty to the boss (played by Tatsuo Umemiya), and his love for Keiko. Kuroiwa finds himself embroiled in a power struggle between the rival clans.

Fukasaku's unique fusion of raw action and violence helped to set the standard for the yakuza genre, inspiring a new generation of filmmakers. Fukasaku's directing style is characterized by controlled chaos, using handheld cameras to create an authentic documentary feel. This technique fully immerses the audience in the film, making YAKUZA GRAVEYARD a prime example of the yakuza genre.

YAKUZA GRAVEYARD weaves warmth, humor, and unrelenting violence, exuding a sense of calm. The score for the film mirrors this with a subtle yet intense mix of sounds and music to help undercut what is happening on screen; at times, the two work so well in tandem that they almost become one.

While the plot may not be groundbreaking, it remains engaging as it follows the tenacious detective caught between warring gangs and a corrupt police force. This isn’t a film you only watch for its originality; you watch it for the fantastic performances and incredible action. Seeing the city through the director and cinematographer's eyes only amplifies the action on screen. Throughout his prolific career, which spanned nearly seventy films and various genres, Kinji Fukasaku often explored themes of honor and loyalty among criminals in his yakuza films. 

YAKUZA GRAVEYARD's blend of stylish vision and Fukasaku's gripping direction makes it a must-watch for genre fans. The film's compelling storytelling and powerful performances make it a must-see for any lover of yakuza cinema. In conclusion, YAKUZA GRAVEYARD offers an enthralling experience for film enthusiasts, showcasing the talent and creativity that flourished within the yakuza genre.

BONUS MATERIALS:
- High-Definition digital transfer
- Original uncompressed mono PCM audio
- Appreciation by filmmaker Kazuya Shiraishi (2022)
- The Rage and the Passion - A visual essay by critic Tom Mes on Meiko Kaji and Kinji Fukasaku's collaborations (2022)
- Gallery of promotional imagery
- Easter Egg
- Trailer
- Newly translated English subtitles
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Time Tomorrow
- Limited edition booklet featuring new writing on the film by Mika Ko on the representations of Koreans in the yakuza film, and newly translated re-prints of a contemporary review and writing by screenwriter Kazuo Kasahara
- Limited edition of 3000 copies, presented in full-height Scanavo packaging with removable OBI strip leaving packaging free of certificates and markings

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[photo courtesy of RADIANCE FILMS/MVD ENTERTAINMENT]

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