Synopsis by Jonathan Crow
Vengeance Is Mine meets La Strada in Japanese gangland auteur Kinji Fukasaku's real-life yakuza drama about a sociopathic loser who always seems to make the wrong decision. Opening in the blackmarkets of Shinjuku just after the war, Ishikawa (played by matinee icon Tetsuya Watari) works as muscleman for the Kawada crime family. After a raid on a Chinese gang's gambling parlor turns into street warfare, Ishikawa finds himself taking refuge in the boarding room of frightened waif and war orphan Chieko (Yumi Takigawa). After a brief departure, he returns, stinking drunk, to collect his belongings and eventually he rapes her. Meanwhile, Ishikawa almost sparks a gang war after beating up a prostitute of a rival gang. Though the Kawada clan's connection with the American occupation forces eventually forestalls any bloodshed, Ishikawa's godfather (Hana Hajime) balls him out and humiliates him. In retaliation, Ishikawa jumps his boss and stabs him an inch short of his life -- a cardinal sin in the crime world. Ishikawa again takes refuge with Chieko, who in spite of his previous brutishness takes pity on the battered and bleeding gangster and nurses him to health. After a brief stint in jail, Ishikawa learns that he is spared execution only through the efforts of his old friend and crime boss Kozaburo Imai (Tatsuo Umemiya); he is instead banished from the Tokyo yakuza world for ten years. Imai arranges for him to lay low in Osaka, where he lives in a flophouse, spending his time whoring, developing tuberculosis, and shooting up dope. He soon gets bored of Osaka, and ventures back to Tokyo with his witless junky sidekick Ozaki (Kunie Tanaka). After another stint in jail, he marries Chieko, who has by this point developed full-fledged tuberculosis. This film was ranked one of the best Japanese films of 1975 by the prestigious film journal Kinema Jumpo.
black-market, crime-lord, drug-addiction, gang-war, prison, prostitute/prostitution, rape, sociopath, tuberculosis