Saturday, June 3, 2017

GANG VS. GANG! Taking in a Toei Yakuza Actioner in Shibuya!

Signage outside Shibuya Cinemavera, announcing its Teruo Ishii film program. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The other day, I found out about a film program happening now at Shibuya Cinemavera, focusing on the films of director Teruo Ishii. Ishii is one of Japan's biggest cult directors, having directed everything from the Starman films at Shintoho to Horrors of Malformed Men (1969) at Toei.  

 Photos of director Ishii in the theater lobby.

The film I saw today was a great 35mm print of Gang vs. Gang (1962), a black-and-white yakuza programmer from Toei. I actually bought this film on DVD just over four years ago and watched it at the time, but it was interesting to see how much of it I'd forgotten! It's quite a stylish actioner, starring Koji Tsuruta (Secret of the Telegian) and Tetsuro Tamba (Submersion of Japan) as gangsters on opposite sides. The story is more or less a routine revenge flick about a gangster named Mizuhara (played by Tsuruta) who's double-crossed by his old gang and then plots his revenge. The ending is about as nihilistic as it gets. Crime most certainly does not pay for anyone in this movie.

A poster for Gang vs. Gang on display in the theater lobby.

I'll probably return to the theater later this week for another screening. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. Teruo Ishii is a director who deserves more attention in the West.

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