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Hard-hitting political thriller by a B-movie master
The movie starts out full-throttle with blaring R&B music and still photos of the 1960 radical student protest movement behind the opening titles. As the film begins, Kuroki, a journalist for a trade paper, is investigating clandestine arms sales to Southeast Asia. He discovers that the point man in the illegal arms trading (Takayama, played with nihilistic menace by Tetsuro Tanba) was also involved in the cover-up of a murder on an American base during the Allied Occupation. The film rolls along as a suspenseful thriller while offering a critique of political corruption, hypocrisy, and journalistic cowardice in postwar Japan.
Hokori Takaki Chosen is propelled by skillful editing and the bold cinematography shared by many Japanese films of the early 1960's- each frame is composed for maximum impact. While the pacing is generally good, I thought it lagged a bit toward the end. As a number of viewers have commented on Japanese web sites, Tetsuro Tanba's strong performance as the villain tends to overshadow the protagonist played by Koji Tsuruta. Still, the film offers a rare combination of genre style, local color, and political critique. Fukasaku fans and viewers interested in the politics of postwar Japan should seek this out.
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