Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 6th, 2005
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, July 1st, 1995
Director: Rokuro Mochizuki
Writer: Yukio Yamanouchi
Cast: Ryo Ishibashi, Kazuhiko Kanayama, Asami Sawada, Tatsuo Yamada
DVD released: May 31st, 2005
Approximate running time: 106 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital stereo
DVD Release: Artsmagic
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $24.95
Tachibana shots up one last time before his assassination of a boss from the Hokushin clan. During the hit he accidentally shots an innocent woman in the leg forever paralyzing her leg. Flash forward ten years later Tachibana has just been released from prison and he is ready to resume his life in the Yakuza. He soon discovers that his clan is shell of their former self and that the old Yakuza traditions have been replaced in favor of a more corporate business like atmosphere. The world has drastically changed over the last ten years and Tachibana continues to struggle with things that remain foreign to him. Can Tachibana ever adapt to this new breed of Yakuza or will he finally be pushed too his breaking point?
Another Lonely Hit Man opens with a bang, literally. From the get go we are not giving any background to the characters we are about to meet and what they are about to do. Then film after this opening sequence completely shifts direction from an emotionless bloodbath to a more character driven piece. While watching this film I had several moments of déjà vu as situations that had been played out in Kinji Fukasuka’s classic Yakuza films of the 1970’s are reenacted in Another Lonely Hit Man.
Locations are used to their fullest extent and director Rokuro Mochizuki use of color sets and heightens the mood through out. The films lead actor Ryo Ishibashi is brilliant with his subdued performance of a Yakuza hit man who wants out. This story like many films in the Yakuza genre is about redemption. The character of Tachibana was a former junkie before his stay in prison. He falls for a prostitute junkie named Yuki who he desperately tries to save from the hell he once went through. One aspect of the story that I was disappoint because it wasn’t flesh out enough is Tachibana’s relationship with his daughter Tamuko. They only have one scene together and it is all too brief and nothing truly gets resolved. The films strongest assets is director Rokuro Mochizuki sense of style as fills every inch of every frame and the films weakest link has to be its drawn out story which not only at times feels padded it goes on a beat to long. Another Lonely Hit Man is filled with a lot of interesting ideas that make up for the rest of the films shortcomings.
Artsmagic presents Another Lonely Hit man in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves its original 1.85.:1 aspect ratio. This release comes with unusual matting that adds black bars not only to the top and bottom, but to the sides as well. The colors which are extremely important to the films Film Noir look had been nicely saturated as deep blue and red look vibrant and robust. Flesh tones look natural and the black levels remain constant through out. The image looks soft at times mostly during darker scenes and there is some minor edge enhancement present, still nothing that ever becomes too distracting.
This DVD offers two audio options a Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Digital stereo mixes both are in the films original native language Japanese. Overall both audio tracks are in great shape with no problems with hiss or distortion with Dolby Digital 5.1 getting the slight edge for its more beefed up mix. English subtitles have been included that are easy to follow and understand.
Extras for this release include bios & filmographies for all the major cast and crew. Other extras include a twenty six minute interview with the films director Rokuro Mochizuki who discusses how he got into the film business and gives an in depth look into the making of Another Lonely Hit Man. Rounding out the extras is an insightful audio commentary track with Midnight Eye’s Tom Mes that if filled with facts as well as his thoughts on the film. These characters and situations have been explored countless times before in yakuza films from the past, still what Another Lonely Hit Man lacks it more then makes up for with it fresh take on a genre that has seen it all. Overall Artsmagic has put together another slickly produced special edition of an obscure Japanese film that is sure to satisfy fans of this film and win over a few new fans along the way.