Joe Shishido plays a tough guy with a secret agenda. His violent behavior comes to the attention of a yakuza boss who immediately recruits him. He soon tries to make a deal with a rival gang a starts a gang war. His real motivations are gradually revealed as we find out how this all ties in with the murder of a policeman shown at the beginning of the film. Written by
Fred Cabral <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Suzuki sacrifices none of his artistic flair in the process of crafting a gritty crime noir.
That's what I like so much about Suzuki (and other genre directors from back then). He made genre pictures on studio demand yet sacrificed none of his personal style and artistic aspirations in the process. As a result, Youth of the Beast is as entertaining as it is visually fascinating, the work of a true master craftsman.
Jo Shishido plays Jo, a hard-ass guy that won't take no for an answer who inflitrates the local yakuza mob and quickly gains the trust of the boss and his underlings. But when he plays this and another gang against each other, it becomes apparent he has a hidden agenda and operates for reasons of his own. The story is rock solid with enough twists and turns to keep things interested, a whole assortment of colourful (and sociopathic) characters and plenty of violence and hard-boiled badassitude to boot. OK, the violence is relatively tame by today's stadards, but unlike other yakuza flicks from the 60's and 70's, the main character in Suzuki's pictures is his style.
Vibrant colours from every end of the palette are combined into beautiful frames, with meticulous attention to detail and an eye for composition. Suzuki is good doing black and white but his work operates on a whole other level when he takes on colour. Clearly a challenge for any director that had to make the transition from b/w to colour (as Sidney Lumet details in his book Making Movies), Suzuki here excels in the task. Unusual yet beautiful compositions include the opening scene which is in shot black and white with with the only exception of a flower appearing in colour, until flashy colour and loud swing music boom at the next cut to reveal a busy Japanese street; or the scenes where Jo and the rival gang boss talk to each other while an old b/w Japanese movie plays in the back; the golden clouds of sand that blow outside the boss's house. There are many such examples yet for all its artistic intent, Youth of the Beast never deviates from its goal: to tell a highly entertaining pulpy crime story of revenge. Not as gritty and nihilistic as the works of Kinji Fukasaku and with a dash of film noir, this is a great ride for fans of 60's crime cinema.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?