Fun energetic cynical pop action film showcases corrupt 60s society.
How can a movie about low-lives using blackmail to get out of their scummy life be so much fun, and still carry a message about social corruption and racism? First, by being restlessly energetic. All the new wave film techniques are used here, jump cuts, flashbacks, moving whirling hand-held cameras, sharp angles.. The movie never slows down except for a few delicious very physical love scenes, the complex story is told through the action. A movie that seems made in a rush and is much better for it.
The stylish 60s fashions, amoral but sexy protagonists, pop art photography and snappy music make this movie fun. It also makes it easier to take the extremely cynical message underlying the whole film. The antiheroes on display are like rats in a sewer (a dead rat is a recurring image). They hang on to the memory of the few happy moments they had, and keep reliving it. They think they blackmail for money, but they are really acting to get back at the Big guys, to prove that even scum can rise above their station. Their friendship and bond comes out of necessity and common experience. But their chance at the big lights is fleeting: going out with a famous actress for a moment may be thrilling, but our heroes do not belong in that world .
The film portrays a Japan ruled by corruption, where mavericks and half-breeds have to scrape to survive. Nobody is good, starting with all of the seedy blackmail "victims". The film has very dark and cynical outlook, but don't let that description phase you, this is also an incredibly fun film to watch, with action, humor and overabundant style. Most critics rank this movie as one of the director's lesser films. I think it deserves much better. Definitely recommended to those who love 60s gangster movies.
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