The Japanese martial artist actor Sonny Chiba became well-known to wide audiences after appearing as the master swordsmith Hattori Hanzo in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003), but at that point he already had a long film career under his belt. His best known earlier films may be the Street Fighter trilogy (all from 1974), but the two Yakuza Deka movies from 1970 are worth a look as well.
Like in the first Deka movie, Chiba plays an undercover cop called Hayata Shiro who is this time allowed to join a yakuza clan called the Seiwa after impressing the clan's big boss and befriending a lower level boss called Ishiguro (Ryohei Uchida). The boss assigns him to wipe out the entire rivaling clan, the Natsui, with whom the Seiwa are competing about the control of the city's marijuana trading business (curiously, no hard drugs are ever mentioned). The Natsui soon realize Hayata is too skilled to be just killed off and hire him to betray the Seiwa instead...
The era when the film was made becomes enjoyably obvious right from the beginning. The clothes and hats, totally groovy music, ridiculously numerous crash zooms and the psychedelic marijuana orgy make it difficult to take the story seriously, but solemnity was clearly never the intention of the filmmakers anyway. The comical sidekicks, exaggerated sound effects, stereotypically loud line deliveries with gruff, angry voices and the sheer over-the-topness of the plot make sure one never gets bored while following the story. Certain scenes, such as the shots of Chiba climbing up building walls, look pretty cool from a simply visual point of view as well.
Besides the funny parts, the action is also very decent. The fights with Natsui's team of ninja assassins (!), the elaborate building intruding sequences and especially the climax (featuring a machine gun, dynamite, a leopard-coloured truck and helicopter rappelling) are highly entertaining pieces of action cinema on their own. On the other hand, the editing is sometimes jumpy and the somewhat serious elements of the story, like Hayata's relationships with Natsui's gun moll Ayako (Kaoru Hama) and a beautiful female teacher or the effect of his betrayal on his friendship with Ishigura, remain very light. Of course, the point was never to make a serious character drama anyway, so it is mostly waste of time to complain about such details. In short, the movie is a must see for Sonny Chiba fans and friends of Eastern action comedies.
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