Ambitious yakuza Kenji befriends harmonica-playing bartender Chuji, who moonlights as a part-time drug-dealer for the opposing gang. Their friendship is threatened by Kenji's plans for ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (screenplay)
1 win. See more awards »


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Rainy Dog (1997)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A Japanese assassin stranded in Taiwan must take work from a local crime boss to make ends meet when suddenly a woman from his past delivers a son to him.

Director: Takashi Miike
Stars: Shô Aikawa, Li Wei Chang, Shih Chang
Ley Lines (1999)
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A group of Chinese youths living in Japan struggle to make their way in life and eventually find trouble with the local crime syndicate.

Director: Takashi Miike
Stars: Kazuki Kitamura, Tomorowo Taguchi, Dan Li
Dead or Alive (1999)
Action | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A yakuza of Chinese descent and a Japanese cop each wage their own war against the Japanese mafia. But they are destined to meet. Their encounter will change the world.

Director: Takashi Miike
Stars: Shô Aikawa, Riki Takeuchi, Renji Ishibashi
Action | Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

In order to settle a business dispute, a mob leader murders one of his own teenage sons. The surviving son vows to avenge his brother's death, and organizes his own gang of teenage killers to destroy his father's organization.

Director: Takashi Miike
Stars: Shôsuke Tanihara, Miho Nomoto, Tamaki Kenmochi
Action | Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

A barkeeper saves a Yakuza boss' life and thus makes his way up in the organization. However his fear of nothing soon causes problems.

Director: Takashi Miike
Stars: Narimi Arimori, Yoshiyuki Daichi, Hirotarô Honda
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A salaryman and yakuza are each sent by their bosses to a remote Chinese village but discover more then they expected.

Director: Takashi Miike
Stars: Masahiro Motoki, Renji Ishibashi, Mako
Andromedia (1998)
Crime | Drama | Sci-Fi
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  

After her sudden death a teenage girl finds her father has uploaded her mind to computer form. With a rival corporation wishing to capture her the girl is uploaded to her boyfriend's laptop.

Director: Takashi Miike
Stars: Hiroko Shimabukuro, Eriko Imai, Takako Uehara
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Amidst a Chinese and Japanese mafia war, a lawyer for the Chinese mob finds a rift forming between him and his corrupt police office brother.

Director: Takashi Miike
Stars: Kippei Shîna, Tomorowo Taguchi, Takeshi Caesar
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Two contract killers cross paths in the middle of the same job and realize they are childhood friends.

Director: Takashi Miike
Stars: Shô Aikawa, Riki Takeuchi, Noriko Aota
Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A visually stylish tale of two male prisoners bonded by emotion, love and murder.

Director: Takashi Miike
Stars: Ryûhei Matsuda, Masanobu Andô, Shunsuke Kubozuka
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

When his beloved boss is killed, a dangerous young gangster cuts a path of vengeance through the Japanese mafia.

Director: Takashi Miike
Stars: Riki Takeuchi, Ryôsuke Miki, Ken'ichi Endô
Agitator (2001)
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A fearless Yakuza captain's loyalty is tested as two ambitious underbosses attempt a takeover of both his clan and a rival Yakuza gang.

Director: Takashi Miike
Stars: Taisaku Akino, Mickey Curtis, Yoshiyuki Daichi


Credited cast:
Chûji Yonashiro
Seiichi Tanabe ...
Kenji Shindô
Saori Sekino ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Mickey Curtis
Daisuke Iijima ...
Yûkichi Hanamura
Akira Ishige
Yôzaburô Itô ...
Talent Scout Sugiyama
Huntley Nicholas ...
Chûji's Black Father
Atsushi Okuno
Bob Suzuki
Tatsuo Yamada


Ambitious yakuza Kenji befriends harmonica-playing bartender Chuji, who moonlights as a part-time drug-dealer for the opposing gang. Their friendship is threatened by Kenji's plans for advancement, as well as by his bodyguard's growing jealousy of Chuji. Written by sienel

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Music | Romance

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

15 July 1998 (Japan)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



See  »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Not just a great Japanese crime film; but a great crime film of rare emotional depth with a classic story of love and betrayal...
15 January 2004 | by (Venice Beach) – See all my reviews

This film had a powerful impact on me. I'm still somewhat new to the yakuza film genre, but it immediately became one of my favorite films, perhaps my favorite Takashi Miike film I have seen so far.

It doesn't really compare to Miike's more famous films because it fits more neatly in to the yakuza and crime genres than Miike's better known stylized shocker exploitation yakuza/psycho films; however, it does have a good deal of the visual style, much of the blood and carnage and some of the blistering action we are accustomed to in Miike's films. And, like most Miike films, it has a cool intro. Also, like most of Miike's best films, it has the coolest and best acting (and actors) you are likely to see in any crime film. Like we have come to expect from Miike films, it has some great mafia boss characters and one or two characters that seem like they are from outer space (though here these eccentrics are more subtle and have less screen time here than in his more famous films).

I more or less liked Miike's well-known stuff like Ichi the Killer and Dead or Alive (especially DOA's first 10 minutes or so) and I especially liked Fudoh and Audition, but I have to say I prefer this kind of film more because it has so much soul and grit and it feels real. The story has a classic feel to it like something out of the more edgy film noirs or some of the best gritty 1970s crime/druggie movies. Unlike in most any other Takashi Miike film I have seen so far, you actually care about the lead characters in this film.

Of course I won't divulge the whole story, but I set it up below. The plot is a little bit complicated, though it is one one of the best stories I have ever come across in a crime movie (my set-up below doesn't do it justice). Don't read the two paragraphs below if you prefer to know as little about the story as possible.


Story is about a young Okinawa drug dealer named Chuji who also works at a bar that features local Japanese rock and roll bands. But Chuji is also a gifted harmonica player, which he learned to play as a young boy out of loneliness and boredom while his prostitute mother turned tricks. While helping a young and ambitious yakuza named Kenji elude the capture of the gang headed by Chuji's boss, Chuji also incidentally meets a pretty girl who later becomes his girlfriend. She, as well as one of the leaders of one of the bands performing at the bar, encourages Chuji to play harmonica with his band. After only one performance, Chuji is instantly popular at the bar for his blues harp skills. His talent later attracts the attention of a record producer. It looks like Chuji might no longer have to deal drugs, but...

Kenji, the yakuza formerly on the run, rewards Chuji for his help at eluding capture and certain execution earlier. The two become friends -- though, unbeknownst to Chuji, Kenji's affection for him is more than just friendly. But because they each work for rival gangs, and because Kenji's yakuza ambitions exceed his status and his closeted homosexuality offends certain people close to him, Kenji's life is on the line, and Chuji obliviously and unwittingly gets tangled up in a yakuza battle way over his head.


Like I started to mention earlier, the story and characters have such a classic feel to them that I wonder if there are any classic noirs or 70s crime films with similar plots. If so, I'm curious to find out what they are. But I suspect the story probably feels so classic just because it is so good. Some Miike films are confusing, often deliberately so, and I usually appreciate his narrative haphazardness. But here, unexpectedly, we're treated to something of a classic crime tale. I know I am overusing the word "classic," but by the end of the film I felt like Charles Dickens could have written the same basic plot though in a very different style and different characters of course.

I want to call it a crime masterpiece; but I feel like it's a bit premature for me to make such a declaration since I need to see some more films first -- even more Takashi Miike films since he must be one of the most prolific directors in the history of feature filmmaking. But unlike most crime movies which often tend to be flashy and filled with a lot of attitude and crammed with forgettable action, this film has an emotional depth to it that most anyone can relate to (in addition to all the cool shoot outs, etc.). Many women would like this film too because there is a really good, and very simple, love story at the center of the film that is quite sweet; and the lead female character genuinely loves and devotes herself to Chuji as he does to her as well. This is how young love should be. This film busts the gut and excites the senses; but it also rattles the soul and pierces the heart. Many of the best Japanese filmmakers frequently seem to have a talent for combining on screen action and physicality with a depth of emotion and feeling that seems rare in filmmakers (and screenwriters) in other nations. Takashi Miike struts his stuff here in this regard. A film like this reminds me of why I love Japanese movies so much and why I think Japanese film in general is a treasure chest still waiting to be discovered -- maybe even by many Japanese people themselves as well.

I am not quite yet ready to call it a crime masterpiece. I at least need to see some more Takashi Miike films first. But damn if I really want to call it a crime masterpiece. Incidentally, it might even be a great story about love too. Nah - Takashi Miike couldn't be capable of a great love story even if it does have gangsters, guns and bullets. Could he?

17 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Chuuji die? getupkid531
Fan question sambo5180
Where can I get this? misterbungle800
Tom Waits song kid_eyeball
Discuss Blues Harp (1998) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: