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Graveyard of Honor comparsion

I reviewed this for a friends site. It does spoil the movie

     Graveyard or Honour (Both Versions) is based on the book Jingi No Hakaba (Graveyard of Honour) by ex-yakuza Goro Fuijita which was based on the life of Rikio Ishikawa; a mad dog gangster who not only destroyed his friends lives, but his own as well. He even once said “that I am like a balloon” meaning he will keep on rising till he’ll burst. In this case he burst by jumping of a Jail and killing himself. In 1975 perfectionist director Kinji Fukasaku decided to make it into a movie with Tetsuya Watari (A new Yukio Ishihara. Yukio was a teen idol who stared in Nikkatsu movies like Rusty Knife and Crimson Comet. Watari did movies like Tokyo Drifter, The Villainy series and The Velvet Hustler.) and a few Fukasaku regulars (Tatsuo Umemiya and Noboru Ando). Watari gave a few unintentional details to Ishikawa, like he had been sick with stomach problems for years which allowed him to play him with a sickly face and an accuracy to the scenes of Ishikawa with tuberculosis.

Because this is a Fukasaku movie he shows the metamorphosis of Japan (as he did with Battles without Honour and Humanity). Fukasaku to me as a director was like a combination of Scorsese, Coppola and Kurosawa. He was not only a realist and a perfectionist like Scorsese or a person who showed the metamorphosis of their country like Coppola, he was also a master of Tragedy, a humanist and a poet of cinema like Kurosawa. He had a documentary touch to his movies as well. Sadly, he is not respected in the west as much he deserves to be. To the west he isn’t as liked as (I am not saying they suck) Miike, Kitano and Seijun Suzuki. Fukasaku portrays Ishikawa as a psychopath who at the beginning has seen to much, loved to little and who is only able to express himself through violence but by the end he is a lost soul going into oblivion. He never clarifies or condemns all his actions. He was a sad self-destructive, ticking time bomb of yakuza with jumbled emotions. The story is a great one, Kind of a gangster story with deep emotional texture, extreme violence and great acting. It is pure-poetry in the truest sense.

27 years later Takashi Miike decided to remake it with Goro Kishitani as Rikio Ishikawa (Renamed Rikio Ishimatsu) with a script by Shigenori Takeuchi who did The Agitator and Violent Fire (aka Deadly Outlaw Rekka) the same year. A few details are changed like it is set from the bubble era to bubble recession, when Fukasaku set it in the stories actual setting; the war and post-war years. Miike does some of his best work here, taking the story and making it equally tragic and poetic. Kishitani plays him even crazier with ferocious intensity, even more a sociopath than Watari’s character. He does a tribute to him and other retro gangster movies with his Jazzy score, deep story and stylized characters, setting, and violence. It is as relentless in edginess as Fukasaku but in some ways even more poetic than Fukasaku’s movie in its story.

I like Fukasaku’s movie more than Miike’s but Miike makes it his own human story. He uses different ways but the magic is still there. The great way to end this is to use a quote from one of my heroes Tom Mes: “It’s brutal, it’s raw and it’s uncompromising, but it’s also thoughtful, deeply emotional and rich in significance.”. How true How true…

Ian Rummage

Here is his site.