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.
Two Japanese men help a Vietnam war deserter escape from Japan for Sweden. They plan to fund the escape by selling LSD pills. After word of the drug deal gets spread around they find themselves fending off rival gangs.
Famed Japanese director Kinji Fukasaku made a popular series of epic gangster films in Japan in the 1970s, starting with BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR AND HUMANITY. Hiroshima DEATH MATCH is the second of this five-part series and even better than the first; the first film is good but a little too sprawling and unfocused. It feels like everybody cut their teeth on that one, and went on to even better things with this.
The tale is a familiar one for anybody versed with the works of Beat Takeshi and the like: two rival crime families vie for control of post-war Hiroshima during the 1950s, and petty rivalries soon spiral out of control leading to full-blooded murder. A relatively short running time means that there's a heck of a lot of incident packed in here, ranging from love affairs to prison stays, assassination attempts, gang fights, and shoot-outs.
The production values of Hiroshima DEATH MATCH are very good indeed and there's a decidedly adult edge to the proceedings, with plenty of violence and blood thrown into the mix. The star players are all very strong too, from the mild mannered Yakuza bosses to the likes of Sonny Chiba as a spaced-out thug with violent passions. PROXY WAR followed next.
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