Yakuza, Muraki is released from prison after three years for stabbing and killing a member of a rival gang. He is shocked to find out that his bosses have since amalgamated with the rival gang to fight off the advances of another gang from Osaka which is muscling in on their patch. Muraki is addicted to gambling and soon finds himself back in illegal gambling dens, where he meets with the alluring and seemingly very rich Saeko, a young woman who is addicted to living fast and seeking new thrills to keep her entertained. Through his contacts he introduces her to bigger games where the crime bosses play for much bigger stakes. Shinoda was part of the "New Wave" of Japanese film-makers that were frowned upon in many circles, not least by the Shochiko studio, generally a family orientated studio made famous by Ozu. To make matters worse the author Masaru Baba was less than impressed by the directors visual flair, (a flair that has been compared to that of Jean Pierre Melville and the French New Wave). He believed the visuals clouded his story, as a result the film was banned in Japan due to its over elaborations on illegal gambling. This quickly led Shinoda to the opinion that making films independently was the only way to go in the future, as even Tôru Takemitsu's superb score was frowned upon in Japan. Shinoda's visuals are exceptional and evoke memories of Noir Classics of the past, with all the staples catered for, rain drenched neon lit streets, chiaroscuro lighting, jaunty camera angles, our hero, cigarette on his lip wandering through the night with his lady of dubious past and intentions. As Muraki's affections grow for his new found platonic playmate, it would also seem to mirror the demise of his affections for all things Yakuza, he is a world weary man, an intelligent man, certainly more so than anyone in his own circles, he realises his own merits and deficiencies and comes to the conclusion he could have done better with life. Even Muraki's long time girlfriend who loves him dearly, wants to move on, Muraki is powerless to hold on to her as his infatuation grows, to the point where he is having lucid nightmares concerning Saeko. Pale Flower is not all doom and gloom though, there are respites of wryly dark humour, usually found in the mundane day to day workings of the Yakuza. Pale Flower is an astonishingly rich and layered character study that will keep even those with an aversion to subtitles entertained.