Blackmail Is My Life (1968)
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Made in 1968, Blackmail Is My Life doesn't quite have the gritty social realism of the exploration of the Japanese underworld that would evolve in Kinji Fukasaku's crime dramas of the 70's, but what the film lacks in realism, it makes up for in the director's stylish approach. Kinji Fukasaku takes a routine crime melodrama and gives it an art house sophistication that helps further the script's flat exposition.
Based off of Shinji Fujiwara's book, Blackmail Is My Life comes to life at the hands of Kinji Fukasaku.
The first half of this 90 minute crime adventure is a little weak on the plot, but that isn't to say that it isn't entertaining. This film is all about blackmailing, and in the early going it employs multiple small blackmails, while the the second half is one big one.
The pacing is pretty fast and there are a lot of still shots with narration to help explain things that have already taken place. The blackmails themselves aren't all that elaborate and this isn't surprising. This film is from 1968 after all. Speaking of 1968, the film quality isn't that bad, however there are a few sequences in the middle that are a bit dark.
The characters are the highlight of the film, although some of the supporting cast does lack some background, unlike the main character of Shun. Hiroki Matsukata, Tomomi Sato, Akira Jo, and Hideo Murota round out the blackmailing team of 4 with good performances.
The story for Blackmail Is My Life does take a while to get going, but Fukasaku's directing is enough to make up for this. A good watch.
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