There are decades between the worlds of Kinji Fukasaku and Takeshi Miike, but this is the movie that unites both of their lengthy resumes. They’re very different filmmakers, so seeing them both tell the story of Goro Fujita’s book and the life of Rikio Ishikawa.
The original film takes place in the years following World War II, but this version takes place in a very different time, as the late 80’s economic boom is about to give way to the depression of the 90’s. It also changes how its protagonist enters the world of crime. Here, he bluntly — literally — saves the life of a boss when an assassin (Miike) comes in like he’s in a completely different film, double guns blazing, only to be knocked down with a chair.
But just like in the previous version of this story, Rikuo cannot be tamed. Or reasoned with. Or expected to act like a normal human being. He drags down everyone he comes near and turns on anyone close to him. He is a force of horrible nature and corrupts everything he touches.
This is perhaps the most restrained movie you’ll see Miike. Don’t take that as boring. Even a more dramatic version of the director is still more whiplash than three lesser talents put together.
You can get this movie as part of the Graveyards of Honor set recently released by Arrow Video. It comes with Kinji Fukasaku’s 1975 version, as well as audio commentary by Miike biographer Tom Mes, a visual essay by author and critic Kat Ellinger and archival features like interviews with Miike and the cast, making-of features, press release interviews and a premiere special.