Graveyard of Honor (1975 & 2002) – Film Reviews
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Cast: Tetsuya Watari, Tatsuo Umemiya,
Director: Takashi Miike
Cast: Goro Kishitani, Yoshiyuki Daichi, Hirotaro Honda
by Roger Crow / @RogerCrow
Many gangster dramas leave me cold. I never know who to root for, especially when the line between the good guys and anti heroes is often so blurred.
In the same year Jaws was dominating the box office, the original Graveyard of Honor was released, but director Kinji Fukasaku failed to score the same success as his later cult offering, Battle Royale. Filmed in a quasi-documentary style, it charts the rise and fall of real-life gangster Rikio Ishikawa, a man utterly without honor or ethics, surviving by any means necessary in a world of brutal criminality.
There’s so much energy in the drama it can be exhausting, with cast delivering many of their scenes at a breathless pace. The moody macho posturing does get on the nerves a little, but obviously genre fans should get a lot out of it.
“Left me cold”
Director Takashi Miike certainly did. His 2002 retelling transplants the story to Tokyo at the turn of the millennium, capturing the hedonism and nihilism of the modern Japanese crime scene.
At first it seemed more like my cup of tea, with a bluesy jazz score and more comedic tone.
But then two rapes in the first 15 minutes and a savage knife attack left me cold. Sadly things don’t get any more palatable. An OTT death scene and attack around the 110-minute mark is just as disturbing. Definitely not for the faint of heart, and half an hour too long.