Full review on Drama-MAX
In a way, it was a first introduction for me to the work of Takeshi Kitano, and I've yet to see more from him.
This film is about warring clans within a larger yakuza community. Mr. Chairman is the current overall leader; Ikemoto is one of his vassals. Ikemoto, however, has started an alliance with the Murase family, which deals drugs. Mr. Chairman is old school, and does not like trading in drugs. The protagonist, Otomo, is a vassal of Ikemoto, but is a sworn brother of Murase. Mr. Chairman charges Otomo with breaking this alliance by moving against Murase. Otomo is reminded rather strongly that his loyalty to Mr. Chairman should outweigh his brotherhood to Murase.
In the meantime, Detective Kataoka of the Organized Crime Unit keeps getting paid off by Otomo. Kataoka gives Otomo intelligence that keeps the police off Otomo's back.
Otomo sends an underling to let one of Murase's lieutenants cheat him out of 1 million yen. When the lieutenant arrives at Otomo offices, he sees that the Otomo group is vassal to the Ikemoto family, and begs to skip receiving the payment. Otomo's people insist. Word gets back to Murase, who phones Otomo immediately. Otomo accepts money and a finger and an apology from Murase's under boss, Kimura. The Ikemotos demand a finger from the under boss for the insult.
As one might imagine, there was a lot of hurt pride. That, coupled with mistakes by underlings, ignites an escalating set of reprisals. Alliances shift. Ikemoto wants to keep the skim of the drug money, for instance, despite all the thunder coming down from Mr. Chairman.
Otomo tries to keep his standing with Mr. Chairman sound, but it is not easy; nor is keeping his sworn brotherhood with Murase. Mr. Chairman makes it worse by demanding reprisals.
Who survives this bloodbath? Will anyone be left in place?
Cinematography: 10/10 Beautifully shot using excellent equipment.
Sound: 7/10 Moot; I read the subtitles. The background music was good, and the actors seemed to be well miked.
Acting: 8/10 All the actors were rather good. Gladly, the ones with the most screen time were the best.
Screenplay: 7/10 As a move-forward all-the-time action film, this was great. However, I could have used a bit more exposition of motivation. The film made more sense the second time I watched it, but was still a little unclear.