Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Yakuza Deka: The Assassin

Given that I know a fair bit about horror and thrillers (especially the lowbudget 70s European attempts!), they're not that difficult to write about or evaluate in some form. I do, after all, have plenty else to compare them with. This becomes a sort of self-sustaining reason for me not really writing about much else on this blog. You see the word 'Western' in the banner above? Not once have I written about a Western (although I have watched loads...). The same with Noir. And, for that matter, Slashers flicks too.

Nowhere in the banner above does it say 'Japanese Action'. I don't know much about Japanese action. I'd even go so far as to say I know almost nothing about Japanese action films. The 'almost' in that sentence is important, however, as I am currently sure of one important fact concerning these Far Eastern flicks: Sonny Chiba kicks ass.

---This review does, technically, contain spoilers.---
---But they won't spoil your enjoyment of the film---

I bought volume 1 of Optimum Asia's digitally remastered Sonny Chiba collection some time ago and, although I have previously watched all three of the films, a re-watch of Yakuza Deka: The Assassin last night reminded me just how good they are. Chiba is a relentlessly charismatic star, his round-ish face and wry smile grinning out from under a wide-brimmed leather hat announces his arrival in the film and, with no disrespect to the other actors, the scenes without Chiba on screen positively drag compared to his screentime.

Yakuza Deka: The Assassin gives us a fairly routine action plot: Chiba plays Hayata, a policeman is sent deep undercover by his force, infiltrating and working for a Mafia gang, a gang whom he later betrays - in a wonderful blaze of gunfire - in order to earn the respect of a rival marijuana smuggling gang. He does, of course, eventually gun the rival gang down too. Whilst none of this is exactly ground-breaking stuff, it does allow us to go on a fast-paced dash through streets, brothels, drug-dens, amorous horserides (!) and Mafia HQs.

And that's where my action flick vocabulary runs out. I think it's a mark of a decently paced action film that they do, in fact, resist description. There's hardly a moment to pause to think amongst the double-crossing, the sniper rifles, the chases and the fighting and this is very much to the film's advantage (the only slow scenes - especially a drug-induced hallucination - are pretty tiresome). All I shall add is that the movie does manage a satisfactory explosive ending, rather than limping to a quiet finish, and will almost certainly leave any fan of action films grinning from start to finish.

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