11 May 2018 | jamesrupert2014
Entertaining trans-cultural fusion noir with a great title
Like most of the other reviewers, I was struck by the similarities between this Japanese crime thriller, clearly modeled after 1950's American film noir, and Sergio Leone's iconic 'spaghetti' westerns. Briefly, hitman Shuji Kamimura (Joe Shishido) and his assistant Shun Shiozaki (Jerry Fujio) are hired to assassinate a yakusa boss only to be betrayed by their employer. On the run, they hole up in a seedy hotel, where Kamimura attracts the eye of former mob moll Mina (Chitose Kobayashi) who agrees to user her connections in the local merchant fleet to help them escape. The mob closes in and Kamimura has to make some tough decisions. Joe Shishido is very good in an atypical way as the impassive contract killer, as is the rest of the cast (especially Kobayashi), and the story moves along at a brisk pace to a satisfyingly bloody conclusion. The black and white cinematography is striking and, while the look is pure noir, the score is an unusual (but effective) mix of discordant jazz (typical of period crime thrillers) and music that is clearly an imitation of (or homage to) Ennio Marricione's iconic spaghetti-western themes. The climatic shoot-out, despite being fought between dapper Japanese gangsters, could have come from a '60's anti-hero western, with a stark landfill site substituting for the desert and choreographed gunplay featuring a variety of weapons and a number of ways to die. This was my introduction to the Japanese crime film (having run out of kaiju and tokusatsu films) and I was equally entertained and impressed and look forward to watching other films in the canon (many of which, I have noticed, have equally evocative titles).