Written by: Michael Den Boer on November 27th, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1969
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Writers: Kinji Fukasaku, Fumio Konami, Norio Osada
Cast: Koji Tsuruta, Bunta Sugawara, Ryohei Uchida
DVD Released: April 14th, 2003
Approximate Running Time: 97 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Japanese
DVD Release: Eureka Video
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: $24.95
Synopsis: The yakuza world must choose side when its most ruthless clan Osaka’s Danno organization decides they want to assume complete control over all Japan’s underworld. After they successfully take over several territories the Danno clan set their sights on Yokohama a busy port district. Right around the same time Tsukamoto has recently been released from prison and after eight years of incarceration he has decided to leave the worlds of the yakuza behind. Tsukamoto’s hand is forced when the Danno clan murders his boss forcing him to assume control. Tsukamoto proposes a truce with the Danno clan to avoid an all-out war.
Japan Organized Crime Boss was one of Kinji Fukasaku’s early forays into the underworld of crime run by the yakuza. This film like most of his films is filled with over the top characters that push the edge of decency to its limits.
Kinji Fukasaku’s directing in this film shows signs of the experimenting that would come to dominate his later films. His directing style in this film is reminiscent of Seijun Suzuki’s work on Branded to kill and Tokyo Drifter. One of this film’s strongest attributes is its solid cast with the charismatic Bunta Sugawara and Tomisaburo Wakayama of Lone Wolf and Cub fame.
Kinji Fukasaku’s films are known for their kenotic feel and brutal depiction of violence which is more subdued then in his later films. And when compared to his other similar themed films, Japan Organized Crime Boss is as closest he ever came to making a straight forward yakuza film.
Content wise, this film examines the social ills that plagued post war Japan and the yakuza’s stronghold on the country after the war. And this is also a central theme that runs throughout most of Kinji Fukasaku’s cinema adding more weight to these genre pictures he was working on during this time. Bound by their honor the yakuza live by a set of rules that define who they are and Kinji Fukasaku’s cinema embodies this same type of mentality setting him apart from his contemporaries.
Japan Organized Crime Boss is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that is framed about 1.85:1 instead of the films intended 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Besides the cropping of the image characters through out the film looks stretched. The colors are slightly faded and there is some noticeable bleeding present. The image suffers from lack of detail and grain is present through out. There is some minor prints damage in the form of nicks and scratches, still nothing that ever takes away from enjoying the film. Over all the transfer is not in the best of shape despite the fact this title has been given an anamorphic enhancement.
The only audio option included for this release is the films original Japanese audio track presented in a Dolby Digital mono. Considering the age of the film and condition of this DVD’s transfer this audio track is clear and free of any distortion or noise. English subtitles have been included that are easy to read and follow.
The extras for this release are brief and short they include a director’s profile and a photo gallery that contains black and white promo stills from the film. Eureka’s Japan Organized Crime Boss is no where near the quality of Home Vision’s Kinji Fukasku’s DVD’s. Its lack of extras and sub par audio / video presentation is something one would expect from a budget DVD label.
Japan Organized Crime Boss can also be purchased with Cops vs Thugs and Graveyard of Honor via Eureka’s Kinji Fukasaku Yakuza triple pack #2 which sells for not that much more then each of these films sells on their own. Though Japan Organized Crime Boss is another first class production from Kinji Fukasaku, it would be hard for me to recommend Eureka’s DVD. This DVD is worth at least a rental until a better version comes along.