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Sonny Chiba's long filmography includes popular fighting movies like the Street Fighter series (1974) and Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003), but some lesser known titles like the two Yakuza deka action-comedies from 1970 are entertaining too. I saw the sequel Yakuza deka: Marifana mitsubai soshiki first, but in the end the order doesn't really matter; the two movies are not connected in terms of plot, only subject matter.
Just like the sequel, Yakuza deka recounts an adventure of a tough undercover cop named Hayata Shiro (Chiba) who is assigned to infiltrate and destroy a yakuza clan Yashira. After seemingly resigning from the police force, he is hired by his mobster pal Asai (Ryohei Uchida) and given the job to eliminate a rival yakuza boss Okura (Rin'ichi Yamamoto), but both the Okura and the Yashira clans are playing dirty in the toughening game of bloody rivalries.
The movie is so similar to the sequel I reviewed earlier that I'm going to have to recycle most of what I wrote before: the music and fashion are groovy, the fighting and action entertaining and the comedy amusing enough. The world of psychedelic nightclubs and sex-toy selling transvestites just cannot be not fun, especially when spiced up with frequent gunplay and fistfights featuring loud POW! sound effects every time somebody gets punched (that is, all the time). The tilted camera angles help to make the intruding sequences look very nice and the big finale of Chiba fleeing dynamite-throwing, helicopter-flying baddies through a sand pit is well-made action entertainment, even if not quite as great as the climax of the sequel. The freeze frame-heavy opening credits set the mood for the movie awesomely too.
It is difficult to think of anything significant to criticize about Yakuza deka; everything silly about it just suits the mood seamlessly. Things like an overly straightforward script, abrupt jumping into and out of action scenes or Hayata's slightly simplistic relationship with a drug addict gun moll could come across as poor storytelling in a serious movie, but not here: Yakuza deka is all about fast-paced entertainment not pretending to be anything more. Some hate it, many love it I count myself in the latter camp.
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