Street Mobster (1972)

Genres - Action, Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Gangster Film  |   Run Time - 92 min.  |   Countries - Japan  |  
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This intense, furiously-paced crime film outing is one of director Kinji Fukasaku's finest films. On the surface, it is an action opus and it works beautifully at that level: the script delivers a preponderance of chases, brawls and confrontations of all sizes and Fukasaku gives it a potent, kinetic energy with his trademark combination of handheld camerawork and quick-cut editing. However, Street Mobster also weaves in some social commentary under all the action that is just as potent. Fukasaku dimensionalizes his rough-and-tumble criminal protagonists by portraying the societal indifference and family problems that shape who they are. The end result is brutal and poignant by turns, a facet that is beautifully captured in the lead performances: Bunta Sugawara is a ball of fire as the film's charming yet self-destructive anti-hero, Noboru Ando is cool yet intense as the boss who tries to save Sugawara from his worst impulses and Mayumi Nagisa is unforgettable as the tragic call-girl whose destiny is inextricably bound with that of the hero. In short, Street Mobster is an excellent example of the yakuza film and a great introduction to the genre for novices.