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.
Although it has certain stylistic similarities with other movies (the extreme violence of the LONE WOLF & CUB films and the gangster shenanigans of THE GODFATHER and its ilk), BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR AND HUMANITY is very much a unique and almost surreal slice of Japanese yakuza madness.
The story is told in a choppy style and takes place over a number of years. It sees various criminal gangs emerging in post-war Japan, engaging in various rivalries with one another as various gangster bosses strive to outdo their rivals. Into this messy mix are thrown various larger-than-life characters, foremost of whom is Hirono Shozo, played with emotional relish by Bunta Sugawara.
The first half of the film is largely confusing with a large cast of similar characters all battling one another and indeed I wondered what I was watching at some points. However, it all distills down and becomes much more focused in the second half, which follows the members of a single crime family in their bid for leadership. There's little action here, but Kinji Fukasaku (BATTLE ROYALE) directs with stylish aplomb, making this a more than memorable gangster epic.
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