Kyokotsu ichidai (Japan, 1967) [35mm] - 2/5
Another ninkyo yakuza film from the era when the genre peaked. Unfortunately this one is a pretty hastily put together programmer picture. Ken Takakura is a soldier who deserts and joins an honourable yakuza gang. Of course there's also a villain gang in the town, with leader Bin Amatsu evil as usual. Funko Fuji has a slightly interesting double role as Takakura's deceased mother and a prostitute who resembles her. Too bad the film largely lacks plot and the kind of strong 'between rock and a hard place' dynamic that a good ninkyo film should have. It simply throws in some big names, a Takakura theme song, some silly comedy, and assumes the audience will buy it. Most did, actually.
Also, I'm finally starting with my Sonny Chiba reviews. I'm gonna call this "Sonny Chiba festival"
even though most of the films I watched at home and not at the Sonny Chiba festival in Tokyo (edit:
fuck it, I'll just call it "Sonny Chiba Special"). More detailed reporting can be found in the Chiba review thread: http://www.bulletsnbabesdvd.com/forums/ ... f=1&t=6912
Sonny Chiba Special: Part 1
Police Department Story: Alibi (Japan, 1961) [VoD] – 2.5/5
Sonny Chiba in his first movie role. This is the 15th film in the Police Department Story series that started in 1957. Most of the films were one hour long detective tales shown as b-features in theatrical double bills. All of them were written by Kimiyuki Hasegawa. This installment kicks off with the murder of a security guard in a major company. It’s a relatively well made, although not especially cinematic story with plenty of talkative scenes at the crime scene and in the police headquarters. Chiba has a supporting role as one of the detectives. He’s not bad, but his lack of experience shows when he’s surrounded by the series’ regular cast. He sometimes looks like he's waiting for his turn to speak.
Police Department Story: 15 Year Old Woman (Japan, 1961) [VoD] – 3.5/5
The 16th film in the Police Department Story series marks a notable improvement over the previous instalment, even though they were most likely shot back-to-back. Sonny Chiba returns to his co-starring role as one of the detectives inspecting the case of a 15 year old girl, whose dead body was discovered floating in a river. As usual, the film runs only one hour and doesn’t depart too far from the usual formula; however, it greatly benefits from frequent outdoor locations that were missing from the previous film. It also touches far more serious topics, such as child abuse and mental insanity, and even utilises Rashomon-like storytelling techniques to some extent. The last scene especially is haunting and echoes far more talented filmmakers like Kurosawa. Chiba has also greatly improved his acting with a far more confident performance, including a lot of small gestures even when his character is only in the background.