14 August 2015 | Leofwine_draca
And now for something completely different...
Although it has certain stylistic similarities with other movies (the extreme violence of the LONE WOLF & CUB films and the gangster shenanigans of THE GODFATHER and its ilk), BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR AND HUMANITY is very much a unique and almost surreal slice of Japanese yakuza madness.
The story is told in a choppy style and takes place over a number of years. It sees various criminal gangs emerging in post-war Japan, engaging in various rivalries with one another as various gangster bosses strive to outdo their rivals. Into this messy mix are thrown various larger-than-life characters, foremost of whom is Hirono Shozo, played with emotional relish by Bunta Sugawara.
The first half of the film is largely confusing with a large cast of similar characters all battling one another and indeed I wondered what I was watching at some points. However, it all distills down and becomes much more focused in the second half, which follows the members of a single crime family in their bid for leadership. There's little action here, but Kinji Fukasaku (BATTLE ROYALE) directs with stylish aplomb, making this a more than memorable gangster epic.