Yakuza Graveyard (1976) DVD Dec 20, 2009 2:59:27 GMT -5
Post by Erik Rupp on Dec 20, 2009 2:59:27 GMT -5
Kinji Fukasaku had a long, distinguished career as a film director in Japan. His movies were successful and highly influential within Japanese cinema, but outside of the Japan his work was only known by fans of Japanese movies - a small cult following that found collecting his movies to be difficult.
Then, at the end of his career, Fukasaku directed a movie that received considerable attention internationally (Battle Royale) and his prior works were then snapped up by several distributors. The most notable of these works is, perhaps, The Yakuza Papers series (also known as Battles Without Honor and Humanity), but Fukasaku made dozens of movies, most of them quite good (among them Street Mobster, Graveyard of Honor, Cops VS Thugs, and a few great Samurai movies including Shogun's Samurai/Yagyu Clan Conspiracy, and Swords of Vengeance/The Fall of Ako Castle). All of those movies were made in the 70's - arguably Fukasaku's greatest period in his career.
During that time Fukasaku also made another great Yakuza (Japanese gangster) film, this one - Yakuza Graveyard. Yakuza Graveyard focuses on a, "Cop on the edge," (before that plot concept became totally cliched), and his relationship with both his fellow police officers and the Yakuza members he is supposed to stop. Without giving too much away he becomes conflicted between the two worlds, and finds that there is both honor and dishonor on both sides.
The movie is a hard edged, no holds barred movie filled with violence. It also has a very solid script as the main characters are compelling and fairly well rounded. The camera work lends itself to realism, although Fukasaku does turn the camera literally on its side for some shots.
Yakuza Graveyard is a, "Must Have," for Fukasaku fans, and for fans of the Yakuza genre in general. Even for people who have not seen many (if any) Yakuza films, but like movies like Goodfellas, this is a good film to try out and test the waters.
Kino's DVD is quite good, with good Anamorphic Widescreen picture quality and decent sound (it doesn't sound great, but it is over 30 years old and sounds good considering its age). I've read that there is some mild motion blurring when people move really fast, but I looked for it and didn't see any (and I have seen it on other DVD's, so if it's there, it must be very minor). The color is good, the constrast level looks right, and the picture is sharp and clear.
If you like Yakuza Graveyard you may want to consider getting the entire Yakuza Papers/Battles Without Honor and Humanity series (five films), and if you are already a fan of the Yakuza Papers movies you should strongly consider getting Yakuza Graveyard. It's a very, very good move.