Archive for Japan

Movie Review – Yojimbo

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , on October 28, 2008 by mobflix

This week, we conclude Yakuzafest with Yojimbo.  Yojimbo was written and directed by Akira Kurosawa.  This 1961 film is about a samurai in the late 1800’s without a master (A Ronin) who comes to a town dominated by two Gangsters (Yakuza).  One Yakuza runs the silk business, while the other runs the Sake business.  These rival Yakuza are constantly battling each other for control of the town.

The samurai offers his body guard services to both Gangsters and sells his loyalty to the highest bidder.  After several double-crosses one of the Gangster’s sons seeks revenge on the samurai and a classic showdown is in the works with a pistol in addition to sword play.

Last Man Standing starring Bruce Willis is the American remake of this film.  But why watch a remake when you’ve got the original.

From the master himself, this black and white film from Kurosawa exceeds expectations.

We give Yojimbo 5 stars out of 5 stars

Advertisements

Yakuzafest Movie Review – The Yakuza

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2008 by mobflix

Directed by Sidney Pollack and starring Robert Mitchum, this movie is considered one of the first Yakuza movies made for an American audience.  Ken Takakura stars as the Japanese Hero who helps Robert Mitchum rescue a friend’s daughter kidnapped by the Yakuza after an arms deal gone bad.

Robert Mitchum returns to Japan after being there during the US occupation after WWII, while in Japan to help his friend rescue his daughter, Mitchum renews his relationship with the the Japanese lady he left behind after he was sent back to the States.  Mitchum and Takaura have a complicated relationship with tension, honor.

Severed fingers play a very important role in this film.

The plot has some great action scenes and several plot twists with fantastic acting and direction.

We give The Yakuza 4.5 stars out of 5

Yakuza Month: Yakuzafest Haikus

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , on October 14, 2008 by mobflix

Yakuzapalooza continues. What better way to celebrate Japanese Organized Crime than Haikus.

Yakuza Haiku-Tattooed crime Kingpins / Underground samurai thieves / Prowl Japan’s backstreets

Yakuza Haiku – Underground business / Illustrated mob bosses / The Yakuza reign

Yakuza Haiku – Orders are given / Eradicate outsiders / The Yakuza speak

Yakuza Haiku – Samurai Gangsters / A secret society / The Yakuza code

Samurai Crime Lords / Disciplined gangs rule the streets / Black market kingpins

Brother Haiku: Japanese Gangster / Takes on the Italian Mob / Lessons to be learned

Yakuza Month (Yakuzapalooza, Yakuzafest)

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , on October 9, 2008 by mobflix

The Yakuza is the collective name of Japanese Organized Crime organizations and members. Here are some characteristics of the Yakuza:

  • The word “Yakuza” means “Violence Group’.
    Members of Yakuza organizations can be identified by their full body tattoos.
  • There are over 80,000 Yakuza in Japan
  • The White Book as required by Japanese Law requires that all Yakuza members be identified

The Yakuza evolved from the 1600’s during the Edo periods in Japan. Out of work warriors began to sell their services as protection to merchants and gambling establishments. These warriors groups eventually became organized into various Yakuza organizations.

The Japanese Government and Yakuza organizations have a strange relationship that I haven’t quite figured out yet. As mentioned above, Yakuza are required by law to submit a list of their members to law enforcement. During the post WW II period, Yakuza became an invaluable source for moving commerce (legal and illegal) through Japan. Yakuza also provide a valuable service in helping business entities negotiate deals.

Yakuza activities include black market distribution of counterfeit items as well as drugs, weapons, gambling, protection, prostitution and other illegal enterprises. Yakuza also have close relationships with other Asian gangs in which they coordinate illegal commerce across the region.

Yakuza Members show thier colors

The movie Yojimbo (released 1961) is one of the most famous films of Yakuza. It is set in the 1800’s where a lone Yakuza sells his skills to rival gangs in a small Japanese town. Written and Directed by Akira Kurosawa, Yojimbo brought the subject of Yakuza to the west. The movie The Last Man Standing (1996) starring Bruce Willis is an American remake of Yojimbo. Yakuza movies typically have a Japanese or partial Japanese cast. Most Yakuza films involve sword play.

Combine the mysteries of Japanese culture along with discipline, sword play, and organized crime, and you have peaked my curiosity in regards to movies of the genre.

At Mobflix.com, we are proud to call October the month of Yakuza.

Yakuza Month – Movie Review: Black Rain

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , , on October 1, 2008 by mobflix

Mobflix rating 4 out of 5 stars

Our first movie for Yakuza month is Black Rain starring Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia and Kate Capshaw.  Douglas and Garcia are New York detectives who find themselves in the midst of a Yakuza war that makes its way to New York City.  The detectives capture the young leader of a rogue Yakuza motorcycle gang and escort him back to Japan.

While in Japan, the rogue Yakuza leader named Sato (played by Yusako Matsuda) escapes and takes out his own revenge against the detectives and Yakuza rivals.  There is a fantastic chase scene where Sato performs modern day jousting with a samurai sword while on a motorcycle.

The Japanese dectective (played by Ken Takakura) assigned to capture Sato, butts heads with Douglas and Garcia and limits their powers while they are in his host country.

We give Black Rain 4 out of 5 stars