Battles Without Honor and Humanity | Chicago Reader

Battles Without Honor and Humanity

Kinji Fukasaku is sometimes called Japan's Sam Peckinpah for the extravagant bloodletting in his films, but a more appropriate comparison would be Samuel Fuller. Like Fuller, Fukasaku worked in a variety of genres, cranking out uniquely stylized B pictures that often contained biting social criticism. Fukasaku reached a career high in Battles Without Honor and Humanity (1973-'74), a five-part yakuza epic chronicling the 20-year rise and fall of a Hiroshima crime family. This first episode opens in 1946 as Hiroshima's postwar chaos gives rise to a bewildering array of criminal gangs fighting for a piece of the city's economic action—a wild struggle captured in all its backstabbing glory by Fukasaku's frenetic handheld camerawork and editing style. The terrific Bunta Sugawara stars as the film's stoic antihero. In Japanese with subtitles. 99 min.

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