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Asian Gangster Films


#1

What are some good Asian gangster films with a good amount of violence in them.


#2

This is a subject I know hardly anything of, but lets try something…



Japan



–> 1970 Ninkyo eiga

Old school yakuza films. Usually period setting. Themes of honor and duty. Look for Ken Takakura and Junko Fuji films for example.



1970’s --> Jitsuroku eiga

This is the exact opposite from ninkyo yakuza. Fukasaku started the new age with documentaristic and extremely brutal yakuza films that were not about traditions but the lack of them. The title of Fukasaku’s best known yakuza film (series), Battles Without Honor and Humanity, perfectly captures what these movies were all about. Look for Fukasaku and Sugawara Bunta films



1990’s --> Kitano / Miike eiga (that’s my own term ;D)



Ok, so much about history. I’m haven’t seen more than a few ninkyo yakuza films so there’s little I can say about these. The dvd availability is also very limited outside Japan. I’ll be getting the 8-part Red Peony Gambler series on R2J soon, though. I’m also interested in checking Ishii’s Abashiri Prison series. If you want to check out something on R1 there’s at least Suzuki’s Tattooed Life (aka White Tiger Tattoo). A little later in the 60’s Suzuki more or less went mad and delivered some of the most obscure yakuza classics, like Branded to Kill, before the studio fired him. Tokyo Drifter is a bit less obscure, and a very good film.



From the 70’s I’ve seen Fukasaku’s Batlles Without Honor and Humanity series, and while I enjoyed it I didn’t find it as great as some other do. I haven’t seen any other 70’s Fukasaku yakuza films, but movies like Graveyard of Honor, Street Mobster and Yakuza Graveyard are also classics. My personal 70’s favourite is Gosha’s Violent Streets (Boryoku gai) which is an incredibly stylish film (it’s only available on FR HK Video dvd, though)



Fukasaku directed one more remarkable yakuza film in the 90’s, Triple Cross (which comes with one of the best car chases of the decade), but the genre was pretty much dying already. Exeptions for the rule would be Kitano and Miike. Kitano’s Sonatine is impossible not to recommend. Any other Kitano film with or without yakuza themes you should also watch. Miike has done more yakuza films than I can count, but you could try at least Rainy Dog, Deadly Outlaw Rekka, Graveyard of Honor and Dead or Alive (half cop, half yakuza film). Agitator is supposed to be good, too.



Poster for Brutal Tales of Chivalry 2 (1966), starring Ken Takakura





Poster for Battles Without Honor and Humanity (1973)





Poster for Sonatine (1993)





Somebody please fill me in where needed, like I said I know little about the genre. And hopefully someone can post something about HK and KR ganster films (if not, then I’ll try something in the following days if I have time)


#3

I’d also recommend Fukasaku’s 70’s work as a great start. As you said, they’re just brutal enough to contend with today’s stuff.


#4

A friend on a finnish forum just told me the R1 Yakuza Graveyard is going out of print. So, I borrowed money from my rent account and ordered it from pacific (with Miike’s Back Society trilogy, which was just 20$)


#5

[quote]A friend on a finnish forum just told me the R1 Yakuza Graveyard is going out of print.[/quote]

The Kino version? 'Cause that’s what I got.


#6

[quote=“Laydback”]
The Kino version? 'Cause that’s what I got.
[/quote]

yeah


#7

In Japan, nobody does it better than Miike and Kitano I reckon :wink: Though I do love me some Fukasaku as well, and some Suzuki too. Some great current (late eighties and up I guess) Gangster flicks:





Miike

Graveyard of Honor - Balls out classic gangster style with some brutality as well.

Full Metal Yakuza - Absurd Frankenstein gangster film with a lot of weirdness, some blood and a giant penis.

Dead or Alive I, II - The first film is classic gangster cinema, the second is a bit more meloncholy. Great films.

Gozu - Absurd horror comedy meets gangster craziness.

Kikoku - Classic crime film plot with a slightly zany ending, but until then it’s all bullets, bloodshed and honor.

Violent Fire - Much like Kikoku, Violent Fire tends to follow a rather formulaic plot up until the final half - but is a bit more liberal with its insanity.

Shinjuku Triad Society - Horrifying, offense, violent and one of my favorite crime films EVER.

Rainy Dog - A more somber and reflective film following in the footsteps of STS, a beautiful and tragic film that shouldn’t be missed.

Ley Lines - More about kids playing gangsters opposite the real thing, Ley Lines is another tragic and poetic look at the crime life.

Ichi the Killer - Not much to say that hasn’t already been said really, is there? Ichi is the shizzle.

Agitator - A fairly by the numbers crime film, but with a good helping of attitude and style that keeps the pace up and makes an exciting film.

The City of Lost Souls - An adrenaline pumping tour through the worlds of the triads, yakuza and all sorts of criminal life. One of Miike’s underappreciated masterpieces.

Fudoh: The New Generation - Gore galore and some outright looney plot devices make Fudoh unforgettable. Vagina darts? Hell yeah!



Kitano

Violent Cop - One of my favorite Kitano films, gritty, disturbing and unrelenting. Some don’t have the taste for it and prefer his more somber work, I enjoy Kitano’s brooding here.

Boiling Point - A little too weird for a lot of folks, but I think Boiling Point is a beautiful look into Kitano’s world of disassociation.

Sonatine - Probably Kitano’s greatest work in my opinion, dealing with the knowledge of most certain death and the boredom that comes with it, Kitano is at his most poetic here.

Brother - It may have been shot in the states, but it’s certainly all Kitano. Not his greatest film, but still wonderful.



Hana-Bi and Kids Return should still count in my opinion since both deal with lives of crime, but I’ll just exclude them regardless just in case.



John Woo

A Better Tomorrow - Woo’s brings out all the guns, bullets and blood in his introduction to the Triad film - showing his amazing penchant for choreography and action.

A Better Tomorrow II - The bloodier sequel is probably ranked second in Woo’s filmography in the action department. The final thirty minutes is packed to the brim with explosions, squibs, gunfire and destruction.

The Killer - Woo’s poetic love affair with the concept of honor and loyalty, The Killer will be the film he is likely remembered for. Combining action and content like no other film could.

Tragic Heroes - Only a film that is partly Woo’s but still a great piece of work, Tragic Heroes is a fairly mundane triad film but features an engaging story and some truly great action.

Hard Boiled - The most action packed film I have ever seen, and also a great addition to the “police undercover” genre. No words can describe it’s greatness simply.



Other Japanese Films

Gonin 1, 2

Sharkskin Man and Peachhip Girl

Pornostar

Another Lonely Hitman

Onibi: The Fire Within

Wild Life



Other HK Films

Tiger on Beat

The Mission

Running out of Time

City on Fire

Long Arm of the Law

Full Alert

Full Contact

City War

Rich & Famous/Tragic Hero



There are plenty of others I’m forgetting to list, just so tired. I’ll try and add on some more descriptions if I can think of it tomorrow :slight_smile:


#8

[quote=“pantsman”]
Violent Fire - Much like Kikoku, Violent Fire tends to follow a rather formulaic plot up until the final half - but is a bit more liberal with its insanity.
[/quote]

3 things I wanna point out:



1)I’m one of those chaps that you’ll find that only calls this movie “Deadly Outlaw Rekka”.



2)I don’t remember if I said this on your old board or on this board, but…



3)If you want to experience a more realistic tale of this movie, seek out Yakuza Demon. Much more down to earth. Right down to Miike using a hand-held camera for many scenes.

That’s 1 thing I love so much about Miike. He’s always given enough chances to quickly remake (Or provide a ying/yang theory) to his movies!


#9

Awesome, thanks a lot guys. Brutal Tales of Chivalry looks pretty good.


#10

From KR you should definitely check A Bittersweet Life. Many people also love Friend, I don’t quite know why. Half cop, half ganster film Bloody Tie is decent but nothing special. A Dirty Carnival could be good (Variety reviewer even wrote “Comparisons on many levels with Michael Mann’s “Heat” are not out of order here”


#11

[quote=“Laydback”]
3 things I wanna point out:



1)I’m one of those chaps that you’ll find that only calls this movie “Deadly Outlaw Rekka”.



2)I don’t remember if I said this on your old board or on this board, but…



3)If you want to experience a more realistic tale of this movie, seek out Yakuza Demon. Much more down to earth. Right down to Miike using a hand-held camera for many scenes.

That’s 1 thing I love so much about Miike. He’s always given enough chances to quickly remake (Or provide a ying/yang theory) to his movies!
[/quote]I believe my old boot had it only as Violent Fire (truth be told, I’m not sure it had a real title or not), but it is what has stuck :wink: DOR is definitely the better title for sure. Also, Yakuza Demon, would you be referring to Kikoku? I listed it, but once again, it’s one of those flicks I got a HK boot of back in the day, and I believe my version is titled Kikoku: Yakuza Demon or something like that. Anyway, I agree that it is much more down to earth and a beautiful film. Have you seen Miike’s Graveyard of Honor? Similar in style to Kikoku, that brutally realistic vibe it has. Great stuff.



Also, I think I might have been thinking of the Kikoku alternate ending when talking about it’s ending. Been a long time since I sat down with it. The alternate ending was the DOA reference, right?