It’s the 1970’s in Tokyo, Japan and the streets are awash with yakuza, fighting and blood.
Fresh out of prison Okita Isamu, Bunta Sugawara (“Spirited Away”, “Tales From Earthsea”), finds himself back on the streets of Kawazaki. Except, these aren’t the streets he remembers, things have changed, but he hasn’t.
He finds his old gang and sets to re-establishing himself on the scene, with the help of Asao Koike (“Throne Of Blood”, “Shogun’s Ninja”), a former gangster who encourages him to form his own gang and fight for a territory.
Kawazaki is ruled by two gangs already though, neither take lightly to this young upstart making hell in their back yard, though Boss Yato, Noboru Ando (“Violent Fraternity”, “Violent City”), takes a shine to Okita as he reminds him of himself, when he was younger.
He half-joins Yato’s gang but this means he’s not as involved in the day-to-day. He’s bored, just sleeping around and drinking, trying to keep a prostitute, Mayumi Nagisa (“Kiru”, “Zatoichi’s Flashing Sword”), at bay. A woman he has a tumultous relationship with.
When the rival gang decides to join forces with a much larger, much more violent gang from Okata, the violence erupts and hot-headed Okita must do all he can to save himself and his gang.
Street Mobster is written and directed by Kinji Fukasaku who you will know best from the seminal Battle Royale. Fukasaku is strongly influenced himself by Sergio Leone in his style whilst the music has more than a nod to Ennio Morricone.
The movie is heavily westernised in it’s style yet remains firmly Japanese; from the industry, to gangsters running round in suits and ties and rarely using guns or weapons.
The film is a fabulous character study of a young, hot-headed Japanese man, growing up from the time Japan lost the war and running the streets to make a living, much like his mother did when he was younger, albiet with a very different approach.
The characters are wonderfully rich and brilliantly portrayed, although the death scenes at the end are enormously over the top. Street Mobster is a classic, you even get the very high-end slap sound when they are punching each other.
It’s wonderfully directed and the transfer to Blu-ray is great given its age. There’s not much in the way of special features however: an audio commentary by Tom Mes, trailer and still gallery.