May 12th, 2014

GRAVEYARD OF HONOR (1975) ***

Tetsuya Watari stars as Rikio, an upstart yakuza enforcer who is constantly at odds with his boss. When Rikio attacks some rival gang members, his boss becomes furious. They come to blows and Rikio in a fit of rage stabs him. He is then exiled from the clan and becomes hooked on dope. Rikio soon comes back to his home turf and begins to cause trouble, and before long, nearly everyone is gunning for him.

Director Kinji (Battle Royale) Fukasaku returns with yet another yakuza flick and it’s a pretty good one. Graveyard of Honor has some of the same flaws that his Battles Without Honor and Humanity films have (there are too many characters to keep track of), but like those flicks, it’s filled with potent scenes of action and violence. It’s the little touches though that makes it work so well. The faux-documentary opening for example is extremely well done.

Graveyard of Honor has several extra layers that I appreciated. I liked the way the yakuza infiltrated and corrupted local politics. And Fukasaku does a great job at showing the despair of post-WWII Japan. And the scenes of the yakuza using occupying American GIs to their advantage are pretty cool. Once Rikio turns to heroin, the flick becomes increasingly grim, but while Graveyard of Honor isn’t exactly “fun”, it’s still quite absorbing.

AKA: Death of Honor. AKA: Psycho Junkie.