Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 29th, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, May 6th, 1972
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Writers: Kinji Fukasaku, Yoshihiro Ishimatsu
Cast: Bunta Sugawara, Noboru Ando, Mayumi Nagisa, Asao Koike, Noboru Mitani
DVD Released: September 7th, 2004
Approximate Running Time: 87 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: Home Vision
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $29.95
Isamu Okita (Bunta Sugawara) has a short temper that gets him into a lot of trouble. He is sent as a youth to prison and when he gets out he forms his own gang of hoodlums. Okita’s gang has been interfering with Takigawa clan business and a war is about to break out when Boss Yano steps in and takes Okita and his gang under his guidance. Okita through out the films looses his cool and he often disrespects more powerful Yakuza. Boss Yano does everything for Okita that he can to save him since he reminds him of himself when he was younger.
Lately in North America has seen resurgence in Japanese cinema from the late 1960’s and 1970’s. Some of this is due in part to Kill Bill Quentin Tarantino’s love letter to Asian cinema that had such a profound influence on him as a youth and now as a filmmaker. No director has benefited more then Kinji Fukasaku whose popularity grows every time another one of his films is released here in America for the first time.
Fukasaku has gained some notoriety shortly before his death because of his controversial film Battle Royal which has yet to see an official release in America. Street Mobster was the sixth and final film in the Modern Yakuza series which starred Bunta Sugawara. Street Mobster was the only film in this series that Kinji Fukasaku and it would also mark Sugawara and Fukasaku first collaboration.
Kinji Fukasaku laces his poetic vision with stylized scenes of brutal violence and graphic rape. Fukasaku with Street Mobster unleashed on the world a more sadistic yakuza film in which everyone is amoral and heroes just like villains could be corrupted. The films greatest strength is Bunta Sugawara who portrays Isamu Okita in the film his performance balances between restrained and chaotic. The camera spends a lot of time lingering on the raping and beatings in the film leaving the viewers with no one to sympathize with. The film moves at a brisk pace through its unconventional editing and use of colors as a way to emphasize the films over anarchy structure. Yakuza films like any genre film have a formula to them. It is the spectacle that drives the film not the plot or characters motivation. At the core of Street Mobster is the realization that at any given moment we may be forced to face are mortality.
Home Vision has given Street Mobster a new anamorphic transfer that retains the films original 2:35:1 aspect ratio. The colors are lucid and the grain is kept to a minimum. Flesh tones look natural and the overall detail for this transfer is exceptional. The only audio option on this release is the films original Japanese audio track and English subtitles which are easy to read and follow have been included. The audio track is free of any distortion or hiss. Overall Home Vision’s Street Mobster is their best looking and sounding Kinji Fukasaku DVD release to date.
Extras include Street Mobsters original trailer and trailers for the The Yakuza Papers (Volumes 1-5), Graveyard of Honor and HVe Zatoichi Trailer. Patrick Macias author of Tokyoscope: The Japanese film companion provides liner notes for this release are insightful and informative. Rounding out the extras is featurette, Street Mobsters: A Conversation with Former Yakuza. Two former Yakuza are interviewed with their backs to the camera the whole time. Extras wise are where this release suffers the most and Street Mobster extras are nothing more then filler. Sadly Kinji Fukasaku passed away last year which is a shame since his work more then ever is getting the recognition and respect that has long been overdue. Street Mobster is one of Fukasaku’s best films and it is an excellent starting point if you are just getting into the films of Kinji Fukasaku.