Yakuza Law (1969) (BLU-RAY REVIEW)
DIRECTED BY: Teruo Ishii
STARRING: Bunta Sugawara, Teruo Yoshida, Jess Hahn, Meiji Period
RATED: UR/REGION A/2:35/1080P/NUMBER OF DISCS 1
AVAILABLE FROM Arrow Video
In this deep dive into the world of the Yakuza, meet the violent men who rule the Japanese underworld and the cruel punishments inflicted on those who transgress them. The carnage begins in the Edo Period with a violent tale of samurai vengeance starring Bunta Sugawara (Battles Without Honour and Humanity), before shifting to the Meiji Period as the exiled Ogata (Minoru Oki, Shogun Assassin) returns to face punishment for his past transgressions… and, ultimately, to take his revenge. Finally, the action is brought right up to date with a tale of gang warfare set in then-present-day 60s Japan and headlined by Teruo Yoshida (Ishii’s Orgies of Edo), as a powerful crime syndicate seeks bloody vengeance for the theft of one hundred thousand yen.
We dive deep in the more violent and brutal cinematic side of the Yakuza with Arrow Video’s Yakuza Law, an anthology that tells us three big rules from the Yakuza and does so by jumping around a bit in time frames. Teruo Ishii is a director that has been getting several of his films released by Arrow as of late and I feel this one might be the most violent and the overall best film of the director’s list of films. Our first story tells a bit of a tale of lust and it comes with some of the more blood filled and violent scenes this one has to offer. Eyes are cut out, fingers cut off, and blood pours in waves from time to time. This one really amps up the action and the violent to set the tone and get this one off the ground running. I wouldn’t have cared if the whole movie was about this, but perhaps the shorter story side of this anthology could be why this one comes across as solid at the end of the day as it does. But this first tale is probably the highlight of the movie and is pretty awesome stuff.
From there we have a tale of a guy who did a lot for his Yakuza family and when he is released from jail none of them are there waiting for him. This leads to a big war between him and all sides when he goes after a boss and then is shunned by his crew. A woman comes into play and then we have lots of more blood and duels. This one has some solid characters and really pulls you into what is going on plot-wise. This leads us to an (at the time) modern tale of two guys who seem to have pinpoint accuracy trying to play a deadly game one one-upmanship with each other. The gangs are also going head to head and it has some very violent moments that I’m sure gore fans of today could appreciate. I don’t think it’s as solid as the other two parts but it isn’t bad and it all comes together to make an overall really good film and release from Arrow Video.
– High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
– Original lossless mono Japanese soundtrack
– Optional English subtitles
– New audio commentary by author and critic Jasper Sharp
– Erotic-Grotesque and Genre Hopping: Teruo Ishii Speaks, a rare vintage interview with the elusive director on his varied career, newly edited for this release
– Image gallery
– Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jacob Phillips
– First pressing only: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Tom Mes
Quality of Transfer: 95%