|Out on:||Dual Format 17th July 2017|
NEW BATTLES WITHOUT HONOUR AND HUMANITY: THE COMPLETE TRILOGY
New Battles Without Honour And Humanity
New Battles Without Honour And Humanity: The Boss's Head
New Battles Without Honour And Humanity: Last Days of the Boss
In the early 1970s, Kinji Fukasaku's five-film Battles Without Honour And Humanity series was a massive hit in Japan, and kicked off a boom in realistic, modern yakuza films based on true stories. Although Fukasaku had intended to end the series, Toei Studio convinced him to return to the director's chair for this unconnected, follow-up trilogy of films, each starring Battles leading man Bunta Sugawara and telling separate, but fictional stories about the yakuza in different locations in Japan.
In the first film, Bunta Sugawara is Miyoshi, a low-level assassin of the Yamamori gang who is sent to jail after a bungled hit. While in stir, family member Aoki (Lone Wolf and Cub's Tomisaburo Wakayama) attempts to seize power from the boss, and Miyoshi finds himself stuck between the two factions with no honourable way out. In the second entry, The Boss's Head, Sugawara is Kuroda, an itinerant gambler who steps in when a hit by drug-addicted assassin Kusunoki (Tampopo's Tsutomu Yamazaki) goes wrong, and takes the fall on behalf of the Owada family, but when the gang fails to make good on financial promises to him, Kuroda targets the family bosses with a ruthless vengeance. And in Last Days of the Boss, Sugawara plays Nozaki, a labourer who swears allegiance to a sympathetic crime boss, only to find himself elected his successor after the boss is murdered. Restrained by a gang alliance that forbids retributions against high-level members, Nozaki forms a plot to exact revenge on his rivals, but a suspicious relationship with his own sister (Chieko Matsubara from Outlaw: Gangster VIP) taints his relationship with his fellow gang members.
Making their English-language home video debut in this limited edition set, the New Battles Without Honour And Humanity films are important links between the first half of Fukasaku's career and his later exploration of other genres. Each one is also a top-notch crime action thriller: hard-boiled, entertaining, and distinguished by Fukasaku's directorial genius, funky musical scores by composer Toshiaki Tsushima, and the onscreen power of Toei's greatest yakuza movie stars.
NEW BATTLES WITHOUT HONOUR AND HUMANITY (1974)
1950. In Kure City in Hiroshima, ambitious yakuza soldier Makio Miyoshi (Bunta Sugawara) botches an attempt on the life of a rival boss, and is sent to prison for eight years. In the interim, his Yamamori gang benefits from the country's newfound prosperity and extends its underworld power. When he's released, Makio must mediate a split between the boss and his own bonded brother, Aoki (Lone Wolf & Cub's Tomisaburo Wakayama), which threatens to erupt into violence at any time, even though Makio is about to embark on a more stable life with a beautiful, half-Korean hostess (Reiko Ike) who's fallen for him. But when Boss Yamamori (Nobuo Kaneko) begs him to kill Aoki, Makio is faced with a crisis of honor which calls into question his loyalty to the gang. Kinji Fukasaku's immediate follow-up to his immensely popular five-film series is a darker, more violent re-telling of the original story, with a new cast of characters fighting to reach the top of the crime world of postwar Japan.
NEW BATTLES WITHOUT HONOUR AND HUMANITY: THE BOSS'S HEAD (1975)
1968. Gangland strife in Northern Kyushu reflects family troubles within the Owada gang when boss Owada (Ko Nishimura) takes in wanderer and assassin Shuji Kuroda (Bunta Sugawara) after he does time for the assassination of a rival boss. Rejecting his drug-addicted son-in-law Kusunoki (Tampopo's Tsutomu Yamazaki), much to the anguish of his conflicted daughter Misako (Meiko Kaji, Female Prisoner Scorpion), Owada sets up his own demise when rogue elements within his gang notice the unrest. Kuroda, promised a payback for his jail time, also targets the new Owada boss with a ruthless vengeance, and recklessly lays waste to the local crime elements in order to achieve his financial rewards. Director Kinji Fukasaku takes his popular series in a new, original direction with this standalone film, and introduces a new style and method of storytelling to the yakuza genre, including a pair of female characters who are just as calculating and ruthless as their male counterparts.
NEW BATTLES WITHOUT HONOUR AND HUMANITY: LAST DAYS OF THE BOSS (1976)
1976. A personal dispute results in two dead bodies in Amagasaki, a minor incident which explodes into a full-blown war between the Kawahara gang and the Yonemoto of Osaka. Sensing discord, much larger rival gangs throw their weight into the conflict in an effort to coalesce their own underworld power. When a top boss is killed as an example, his adopted son Shuichi Nozaki (Bunta Sugawara), an ordinary laborer, reluctantly joins the criminal world in order to avenge his benefactor's death. Complicating matters are his younger sister Asami and her gangster husband (Chieko Matsubara and Koji Wada, Outlaw Gangster VIP), who are affiliated with the gang responsible for the killing, as well as Nozaki and Asami's own suspicious relationship. Nozaki charges forward on his quest for vengeance, even though his own family may become a casualty to his violence. Fukasaku's final film in the series once again tells an independent tale of the way poisonous underworld elements can infect even the most ordinary lives.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
High Definition digital transfers of all three films
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original uncompressed mono audio
New optional English subtitle translation for all three films
Beyond the Films: New Battles Without Honour And Humanity - a new video appreciation by Fukasaku biographer Sadao Yamane
New Stories, New Battles And Closing Stories - two new interviews with screenwriter Koji Takada, about his work on the second and third films in the trilogy
Original theatrical trailers for all three films
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist
Illustrated collector’s book featuring new writing on the films, the yakuza genre and Fukasaku's career, by Stephen Sarrazin, Tom Mes, Hayley Scanlon, Chris D. and Marc Walkow
Duration: 98 / 94 / 91 mins
Aspect Ratio: TBC
Audio: Original Mono
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Stars: Bunta Sugawara, Ko Nishimura
UK Cat No: FCD1536
UK Barcode: 5027035017051