January 18-28, 2001

 

Battles Without Honor & Humanity: The Films of KINJI FUKASAKU

 

Presented in association with the Japan Foundation

We're very excited to welcome one of Japan’s most acclaimed filmmakers, Kinji Fukasaku, for the first major U.S. retrospective of his work -- including a Sneak Preview of his latest (and possibly most provocative) action epic, BATTLE ROYALE, starring screen icon "Beat" Takeshi Kitano!

This series was organized with the assistance of the Japan Foundation in Los Angeles and Tokyo, and Simon Field at the Rotterdam Film Festival. Following its L.A. screenings, the Fukasaku Retrospective will tour throughout the U.S. during 2001.

Series compiled by Chris D. and Dennis Bartok.

Special Thanks to: Naoko Watanabe, Toshihisa Tanaka & Isao Tsujimoto/THE JAPAN FOUNDATION – Los Angeles; Yukio Homma/TOEI CO.; Toshiko Adilman; Masaki Koga/SHOCHIKU CO.; Masaharu Ina/TOHO CO.; John Kirk/MGM-UA; Mona Nagai/PACIFIC FILM ARCHIVE; Dr. Akiko Agishi; Yoshiki Hayashi; Merlin David.

Buy titles in our Japanese Outlaw Masters DVD and video series!

 

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Until recently, Japanese action-master Kinji Fukasaku was known mainly in the West for his most atypical films: the phantasmagoric cult favorite BLACK LIZARD, and the gleefully trashy sci-fi epics THE GREEN SLIME and MESSAGE FROM SPACE. But in Japan, Fukasaku is renowned for such gritty, high-octane yakuza films as BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR & HUMANITY and WOLVES, PIGS & PEOPLE, movies that have had an enormous impact on the younger generation of outlaw directors including "Beat" Takeshi Kitano and Takashi Ishii. Fukasaku’s pyrotechnic gangster movies suggest a methedrine-fueled hybrid of Fuller/Scorsese/Woo, with the social conscience of early Visconti. For nearly 40 years, Fukasaku has managed to balance the demands of genre filmmaking with a fierce concern for political and social themes – many of his greatest yakuza films are set during the chaotic post-WWII years, using his violent underworld hitmen and gang bosses to reflect the upheaval changing all levels of Japanese society.

All films in Japanese with English subtitles except MESSAGE FROM SPACE (dubbed Version).

 

Thursday, January 18 - 8:00 PM

Special Sneak Preview – Fukasaku’s Latest!!

BATTLE ROYALE 2000, Toei, 90 min. Fascist teacher "Beat" Takeshi Kitano murderously shepherds a high school class through a government-sponsored survival-of-the-fittest experiment on a deserted island, in Fukasaku's latest, an ultra-controversial, action-packed examination of the institutionalizing of violence. 40 years after bursting on the Japanese film scene, BATTLE ROYALE is a testament that the maestro has lost none of his fiery social conscience or exuberant dark humor. Discussion following with director Kinji Fukasaku. Based on advanced ticket sales, this film is likely to sell-out. We recommend that you buy your tickets before the 18th.

 

Friday, January 19 - 7:00 PM

BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR AND HUMANITY (JINGINAKI TATAKAI) 1973, Toei, 99 min. Forget RESERVOIR DOGS, forget A BETTER TOMORROW and every other ultra-violent gangster flick you’ve ever seen. BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR & HUMANITY is an absolute chaos of beatings, shootings and stabbings, set amongst the post-war yakuza mobs in Hiroshima – Bunta Sugawara stars as the film’s homicidal hero, a yakuza thug with an extremely short temper. A 1990 Japanese critics’ poll voted this one of the 20 Best Japanese Movies of All Time. With Tatsuo Umemiya, Hiroki Matsukata. Discussion following with director Kinji Fukasaku.

 

Friday, January 19 - 9:30 PM

UNDER THE FLUTTERING MILITARY FLAG (GUNKI HATAMEKU MOTO NI aka UNDER THE FLAG OF THE RISING RUN), 1972, Toho, 96 min. World War II widow Sachiko Hidari pieces together the Rashomon-style puzzle of her soldier husband Tetsuro Tanba’s fate through a maze of bureaucracy and the contradictory recollections of his surviving comrades. What emerges is a Catch- 22 struggle against madness, as she discovers that Tanba had been executed for killing his insanely violent commanding officer (Shinjiro Ebara). This scathing anti-war indictment was co-written by Kaneto Shindo (ONI BABA) and is one of Fukasaku’s personal favorites. Discussion following with director Kinji Fukasaku.

 

Saturday, January 20 - 5:00 PM

MODERN YAKUZA – OUTLAW KILLER (GENDAI YAKUZA – HITOKIRI YOTA aka BLOODTHIRSTY MAN), 1972, Toei, 90 min. Arrogant wannabe Bunta Sugawara tries to barnstorm his way out of the gutter into the bigger rackets, only to be beaten down by the established gang. Boss Noboru Ando, who remembers what it was like to be down-and-out, is fond of Sugawara despite his big mouth. But Sugawara’s dissolute lifestyle, murderously-jealous girl (Mayumi Nagisa in a bravura performance) and messed-up pals prove his undoing. Nothing can stop the death-dealing that ensues in this gonzo classic, in what amounts to a dry run for GRAVEYARD OF HONOR & HUMANITY. Discussion following with director Kinji Fukasaku.

 

Saturday, January 20 - 8:00 PM

All-Out Action Fukasaku Double-Feature!!

GRAVEYARD OF HONOR AND HUMANITY (JINGI NO HAKABA), 1975, Toei, 94 min. If there’s anything more insane and more perverse than BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR AND HUMANITY – this is it. Sociopathic loser Tetsuya Watari can’t seem to get along with his yakuza pals (maybe it’s those American sunglasses he’s always wearing). His life becomes an uncontrollable spiral of mindless violence, heroin addiction, tuberculosis, sleazy sex and worse – climaxing with him eating his girlfriend’s ashes! With Tatsuo Umemiya, Yumi Takigawa (SCHOOL OF THE HOLY BEASTS), Noboru Ando.

STATE POLICE VS. ORGANIZED CRIME (KENKEI TAI SOSHIKI BORYOKU aka COPS VS. THUGS), 1975, Toei, 101 min. Live-and-let-live cop Bunta Sugawara has his friendship with yakuza drinking buddy Hiroki Matsukata destroyed by internecine gang warfare and the intervention of supervisor Tatsuo Umemiya, an anti-corruption crusader and former gangster. A searingly unsentimental, realistic dissection of the strange symbiosis of Japan’s law enforcement and yakuza underworld. Discussion between films with director Kinji Fukasaku.

 

Sunday, January 21 - 5:00 PM

BLACK LIZARD (KUROTOKAGE), 1967, Shochiku, 87 min. Shy, stubborn detective Akechi (Isao Kimura) descends down a rabbit hole of psychedelic depravity in his quest for super female jewel thief Black Lizard (played by famous drag star Akihiro Maruyama). A swirling comic book miasma of decadent happenings and modern fairytale tableaux, with a brief appearance by legendary novelist Yukio Mishima. With Ko Nishimura, Kikko Matsuoka, Yusuke Kawazu. Discussion following with director Kinji Fukasaku.

 

Sunday, January 21 - 7:30 PM

THE GEISHA HOUSE (OMOCHA), 1998, Toei, 113 min. 1960’s female icons Sumiko Fuji (formerly known as Junko Fuji of the RED PEONY GAMBLER series), Yumiko Nogawa (GATE OF FLESH) and Mariko Okada (EROS PLUS MASSACRE) return as luminous as ever in Fukasaku’s guide to the emotional labyrinth that was the mid-50’s Kyoto geisha demimonde. Scripted by fellow director Kaneto Shindo.

 

Friday, January 26 - 7:00 PM

YAKUZA BURIAL – JASMINE FLOWER (YAKUZA NO HAKABA – KUCHINASHI NO HANA), 1976, Toei, 96 min. Brooding, misfit cop Tetsuya Watari slowly realizes he has more in common with his yakuza nemesis Tatsuo Umemiya and his lover, mob boss’s daughter Meiko Kaji (spectacular star of the FEMALE CONVICT SCORPION Series), than he does with his hypocritical superiors. This realization ignites a spiraling chain of betrayals and murders in Fukasaku and Watari’s explosive follow-up to GRAVEYARD OF HONOR & HUMANITY.

 

Friday, January 26 - 9:15 PM

Early Fukasaku Double Feature!!

WOLVES, PIGS AND PEOPLE (OKAMI TO BUTA TO NINGEN), 1964, Toei, 95 min. One of the first yakuza films by Fukasaku to receive critical acclaim. Legendary tough guy Ken Takakura plays a lone-wolf hood who convinces his younger sibling (Kinya Kitaoji) to recruit his youth gang to help rob elder brother Rentaro Mikuni’s mob. Fukasaku’s gritty noir tragedy moves like a runaway freight train.

HIGH NOON FOR GANGSTERS (HAKUCHU NO BURAIKAN aka VILLAINS IN BROAD DAYLIGHT), 1961, Toei, 82 min. Gangster maverick Tetsuro Tanba recruits a motley crew including a Korean, two Americans (one black, one white) and three women to rob a U.S. Army base payroll. Unfortunately there’s another gang with the same idea, and things go awry when they begin squabbling amongst themselves. Believed lost until just last year, this is one Fukasaku’s earliest films and has all of the trademarks of unnerving violence, social realism and unsentimental narrative that we’ve grown to love.

 

Saturday, January 27 - 5:30 PM

MESSAGE FROM SPACE 1978, MGM/UA, 105 min. Vic Morrow and Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba lead a cast of interplanetary heroes in response to a distress signal from a planet in trouble, in this imaginative, STAR WARS-inspired sci-fi/fantasy. This was the big screen counterpart to the popular Japanese TV series known as "Swords of the Space Ark." With Tetsuro Tanba, Etsuko "Sue" Shiomi.

 

Saturday, January 27 - 8:15 PM

Tsuruta/Ando/Wakayama Double Feature!!

JAPAN’S VIOLENT GANGS – BOSS (NIHON BORYOKUDAN – KUMICHO aka SYMPATHY FOR THE UNDERDOG) 1969, Toei, 96 min. Koji Tsuruta returns from jail to assume control of his gang, but he’s in for a rude awakening courtesy of the newly allied corporate yakuza. Tsuruta was a traditional actor of chivalrous roles, and Fukasaku uses this to heighten the already white-hot tension between the dwindling numbers of ethical outlaws and the emerging faceless, dog-eat-dog gangs. Moral dilemmas are punctuated with slam-bang action and prodigious bloodshed. With Noboru Ando (THE WOLVES), Tomisaburo Wakayama (LONE WOLF AND CUB series), Bunta Sugawara.

GAMBLER – FOREIGN OPPOSITION (BAKUTO – GAINJI BUTAI aka GAMBLERS IN OKINAWA aka YAKUZA COMBAT FORCES), 1971, Toei, 93 min. Sunglasses-wearing Koji Tsuruta is banished by mainland yakuza to Okinawa, where he ends up allied with old pal Noboru Ando and young Tsunehiko Watase. They go head-to-head with not only the local rival gang led by scarred, crazed Tomisaburo Wakayama, but American gangsters as well. Their new hard-earned gains are threatened when the corporate mainland boss arrives at the climax with his gangster army. Brutally unrepentant with a subtle sense of humor (Tsuruta keeps his sunglasses on even in bed with his girl!).

 

Sunday, January 28 - 5:00 PM

SHOGUN’S SAMURAI (YAGYU ICHIZOKU INBO aka YAGYU CLAN CONSPIRACY), 1978, Toei, 130 min. Fanatical, power-obsessed Lord Yagyu (Kinnosuke Yorozuya Nakamura) will do anything to keep disfigured, going-mad Shogun Hiroki Matsukata in office -- including genocide and warring with his own son, one-eyed Jubei (Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba), in this all-star, big-budget samurai action spectacular. This is the feature length film version of another phenomenally popular seventies Japanese TV show, "Yagyu Clan Conspiracy." With Yoshio Harada, Etsuko "Sue" Shiomi, Hiroyuki Sanada.