This is one of a number of B-Movies made by Seijun Suzuki for Nikkatsu. These movies were made quickly under strict studio guidance, with stars and scripts outside of Seijun Suzuki's control. Suzuki would later be famously sacked for rebelling and making his freewheeling sixties yakuza masterpieces. For this movie however Suzuki sticks quite closely to his instructions except for a few moments of trademark brilliance.
This movie's clunking script is about a tokyo punk (played by an uncharismatic teen idol) who finds he is heir to the matsudaira clan and so must go the isle of Awaji and claim his birthright, fight yakuza for the preservation of the clan, and discover his mother. The themes are big, the acting and dialogue unfortunately completely lousy. This is a movie where problems are solved in the wish fulfillment manner of children's entertainment. But it lacks the pace and innocence of a children's classic. We are left with anaemic yakuza and clichéd teen rebellion. This is the kind of Japanese film that kinji fukasaku and the new wave pioneers thankfully killed off.
The movie is not a dead loss as Suzuki engages in quite a few playful moments. Sound and music plays a prominent role in this movie and musical interludes provide most of the better moments. There is a halfhearted chase which then thrillingly weaves across and around a noh theatre performance. There are some audacious jump cuts and abbreviations to the narrative. Awaji itself makes a brightly coloured setting and island traditions are interestingly recorded. The ending is also a highlight when Suzuki undercuts the appalling script and restages the action in a wild west quarry pit.
In final judgement, this movie is probably just one for Seijun Suzuki completists. It is however excellent to see it released on Uk DVD allowing us to see how Seijun Suzuki subverted the formulas of a studio programmer. Suzuki would return to similar themes and a similar style in "Fighting Elegy". Of the two "Fighting Elegy" is infinitely superior due to an excellent script, performances and satirical distance.
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