Bryant’s review published on Letterboxd:
“Be more gentle!”
“I’ve got no time.”
There’s no forgiveness in Fukasaku’s brilliant depiction of post-war Japan. The characters match their surroundings: ruined by American bombs, sacrificing whatever is necessary for power. It would pair very well with Fassbinder’s BRD trilogy, which was made with equal urgency.
In fact, now that I think about it, there’s a resonance with 70s Italian poliziotteschi too. Three Axis powers, all trying to rebuild their economic might, all sacrificing morals to expedience on an altar of capitalism.
Back to Fukasaku. His yakuza are idiots, for the most part. They’re the kind of people who go out to get into fights with no plan, and then trip over their own swords. The more important they are, the harder they fold in difficult times. The government has failed the country but the potential replacements are no better.
It’s just a bunch of violent people moving forward as fast as they can, lying to each other about the depths of their friendship. The plot maintains the same breakneck speed so as not to give us any illusion of comfort. Fukasaku doesn’t need the audience to keep up with the betrayals; he just wants to be crystal clear that betrayal is the norm.