Repeatedly beat to a pulp by gamblers, cops, and gangsters, lone wolf Shoji Yamanaka (Kinya Kitaoji) finally finds a home as a Muraoka family hit man and falls in love with boss Muraoka's ... See full synopsis »
Acting boss Hirotani of the Ohara gang uses his friendship with corrupt cop Kuno to usurp a staged land deal that rival yakuza gang Kawade had arranged through local politicians. Open warfare erupts between the two gangs.
Okita finally is released from the joint, the world outside had changed dramatically, even how gang life operates. In Kinji Fukasaku's brutal character study, you find a yakuza that has a untamed rage & lack of respect for authority yet finds himself leading the remnants of the gang he once belonged to inorder to secure a area of their own... It paved the way for Fukasaku's Yakuza Papers series. Written by
Isamu Okita is one angry young man and Street Mobster is his story, yet another gem from the masterful Kinji Fukasaku. Symbolically born on the day of Japan's defeat in the 2nd World War, he is born with the seed of his own doom and for all his little pleasures this film is one of a compelling downward spiral, as our anti-hero gets himself thrown in jail for assault and then emerges to find a world that has left him behind, one in which he is a violent anachronism, his objectionable behaviour a setback. Like a lot of Fukasaku films and the Yakuza genre in general this is not a film of revolutionary plotting, nor is it stylistically as inventive as some of the directors other work, but it puts its simplicity to great use, it is a fierce and intimate tale of post war city desolation and desperate male violence. The gritty cinematography of Hanjiro Nakazawa lends every frame a run-down and hostile feel, even settings with more expensive trappings or skyline scraping buildings have no glamour. Gritty too is Fukasaku's direction, its frequent frenzy contrasts with powerful moments of calm, the frenetic fighting is often impactful and the cluttered shots and design give the film an intensely crowded, vividly zoomed in feel. Bunta Sugawara is terrific as Isamu, an openly abrasive and unlikeable sort whose constant antagonistic behaviour masks desperation, a striving to survive and never surrender, in short pulling against what the opening suggests to be his constant fate. Sugawara's performance makes this would be loathsome character compelling, one can understand why people are drawn to him, why the girl he raped in the past clings to him and why the well to do older boss Yato wishes to help him out. The sexual politics of Okita's relationship with his lady are perhaps strange to Western audiences but it seems to me her attraction to him is part that he is all she has and part an act of desperate self assertion. Its certainly a complex and moving relationship, though a little underused in the film. Aside from Sugawara, Noboru Ando is good as Boss Yato, shrewd and controlled, he almost seems to know from the start the consequences of associating with Okita but does so anyway. The film then is about it seems to me the conflict between fate and self determination as well as the common trope of the conflict between Yakuza values and human realities and its themes are well worked through its course. For all its energy the film has a bit less of a kick than the best of the genre, the violence not quite fierce enough, the emotions always raw but not coming out enough for the relationships of the film to achieve their full potential. Perhaps it is simply because the film is about an objectionable man, nut it wasn't as consistently engaging as it could have been. Still, a very good film nonetheless and amply recommended to fans of the genre.
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