Bunta Sugawara is Miyoshi, a low-level assassin of the Yamamori gang who is sent to jail after a bungled hit. While in stir, family member Aoki attempts to seize power from the boss, and ... See full summary »
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.
Sugawara is Kuroda, an itinerant gambler who steps in when a hit by drug-addicted assassin Kusunoki goes wrong, and takes the fall on behalf of the Owada family, but when the gang fails to ... See full summary »
Sugawara plays Nozaki, a laborer who swears allegiance to a sympathetic crime boss, only to find himself elected his successor after the boss is murdered. Restrained by a gang alliance that... See full summary »
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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