Synopsis by Jonathan Crow
Veteran filmmaker Juzo Itami spins this biting satire cum do-it-yourself video about the do's and don'ts of dealing with yakuza extortion techniques. The film centers on the posh Europa Hotel that lost a big conference bid to its rival; the reason was because gangsters were openly conducting business and harassing customers in the lobby. The hotel manager (Akira Takarada) drafts bellboy Wakasugi (Masahiro Murata) and pudgy middle manager Suzuki (Yasuo Daichi) into the heretofore non-existent yakuza task force. These two nice guys have no clue how to handle their sneering, loudly dressed adversaries. Paying them off only results in them demanding more money, and talking to them results only in a hail of insults. Enter Mahiru Inouye (Itami's wife Nobuko Miyamoto) -- a gutsy lawyer who is intimately familiar with Japan's newly installed anti-racketeering laws. Bribery, she tells the pair, won't stop their problem -- recording equipment, surveillance cameras, and a little backbone will. When asked if the yakuza might whack them for their defiance, Inouye laughs it off, arguing they won't risk jail killing a non-yakuza. In spite of their abusive language and menacing leers, they are first and foremost businessmen. This film proved to be so accurate about how to thwart mob shakedowns and so unflattering to the yakuza (who are used to being portrayed as latter-day samurai), that days after this film was released, Itami found himself on the receiving end of a gangland knife attack. The pugnacious director wore the resulting scars on his face as badges of honor.
bellhop, extortion, gangster, hotel, lawyer, manager, rackets [corruption]