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Japanese cinema - Movie Review Example

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The yakuza genre has a long history in Japanese cinema. For a long time yakuza were popular and often positive heroes in Japanese folklore. In the 20th century, however, the image of yakuza in the Japanese culture has changed from an honorable outlaw protecting the poor to a greedy thug ready to backstab and deceive only for money…
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Japanese cinema

Download file to see previous pages... The present essay is dedicated to the discussion of the cultural shift from the comprehension of the warrior code among yakuza to realizing their criminal nature. At first, a large amount of attention is devoted to the discussion of the Battles without Honor and Humanity. Then, the history of common perception of yakuza through folklore is unfolded. The difference between older yakuza representation and the newer one is analysed next. Finally, global prerequisites of the cultural shift, described in Battles without Honor and Humanity, are given one by one: post-war political situation, nuclear threat, American occupation, and the corruption of the police forces.
Most of the Japanese films about yakuza made before Kinji Fukasaku's Battles without Honor and Humanity were concentrated on the confrontation of the good yakuza and the bad yakuza. While being outlaws they were divided by 'jingi' - the code of honor. That is, good yakuza always acted in accordance with jingi, while their opposites showed treachery, dishonor, and other signs of falling from yakuza's grace with their actions. Moreover, jingi was respected so greatly among yakuza that even evil characters had to hide their true nature from other gang members. Once the disrespect to jingi was discovered, antagonists were quickly and violently dealt with.
Obviously, the real life was far from the ideal picture drawn by th...
Indeed, Fukasaku's life has made him to be able to judge about the authenticity of yakuza image in the Japanese cinema.
Kenji Fukasaku was born in 1930 in hard times for Japan. At first the Japanese invasion into China, then the Second World War ending with nuclear explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki - constant wars have transformed the everyday life into the battle for survival. With his youth spent at that times, no wonder that Fukasaku's view of a post-war Hiroshima in his Battles without Honor and Humanity is filled with cynicism and fatalism. His work as a director at the Toei studio began in 1961. At that time the studio was focused on the production of historical 'jidaigeki' films, and with the studio policy, obliging directors to simply carry out instructions rather than be creative, the film made by Fukasaku in 1973 can be perceived almost as a revolution. Battles without Honor and Humanity offer a realistic view of yakuza gangs emerging in radioactive dust of post-war Hiroshima, and at the same time Fukasaku's film is very personal - it is almost like the director himself talks to us.
At the beginning of the film the main character Hirono Shozo performed by Bunta Sugawara comes out of the prison where he was put for dispatching some American soldier. Hirono has no plans for new peaceful life; instead he is instantly taken under the wing of the Yamamori yakuza group. Traditionally to yakuza genre, Hirono represents a hero fallen behind the new life, which has changed seriously while he was in prison. The second difference between Shozo and other yakuza is that he still believes in 'jingi', offering loyalty to his boss, while the other ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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