Notable Cast: Bunta Sugawara, Akira Kobayashi, Tsunehiko Watase, Shingo Yamashiro, Kunie Tanaka, Tetsuro Tanba, Tatsuo Umemiya, Nobuo Kaneko, Takeshi Kato
The continued evolution of the Battles Without Honor and Humanity franchise is something impressive to behold. Director Kinji Fukasaku and writer Kazuo Kasahara have continued to not only mine their gold mine of yakuza stories, but they have really told an overarching tale that interweaves into a spider’s web of deceit, loyalty, and death. This move is taken to the next level in the third film of the series, Proxy War, and while the style is familiar, this film is a fairly effective departure from some of the key elements that made the first two films so impressive. The results are not a lessening of the franchise, but a new direction that follows the growth of the characters and plotting.
When the boss of the Muraoka family is killed, Uchimoto refuses to avenge him and instead ends up swearing allegiance to Akashi gang. This leaves tensions at an all time high between the Muraoka clan and the Yamamori clan and it leaves Shozo Hirono (Bunta Sugawara) as a mediator between the two. However, as both sides begin to boil over, nothing will stop the oncoming bloodshed.
|Intensity and sadness...in one face.|
While this tone of uneven grounding with how the characters must retain their footing remains the same throughout all of the films thus far, Proxy War takes a new tactic at crafting the atmosphere of paranoia and sense of unease. Instead of littering the film with bursts of violence and using an overwhelming amount of the documentary style of shaking cameras and gritty visuals (like the previous films did), Proxy War instead opts to ground most of its tension through dialogue and performances. While this makes for a film that is a bit slow to get moving at times, the stellar performances and the tight writing really work to the film’s benefit. There are definitely a few yakuza battles to be found – and the finale is another great moment of relief despite it’s obvious “to be continued” vibe – but the film is much more focused on the character interactions around a table than it is in showing the conflict of the streets. While it generally makes for a less exciting film in more general terms, it does really show off the insane abilities of the director, writer, and cast to sell its concept.
|Meetings have never been this tense.|
ARROW VIDEO FEATURES:
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
- Original Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
- Optional English subtitles
- Secrets of the Piranha Army – a new documentary about the troupe of supporting actors who appeared throughout the series, featuring interviews with original Piranha members Masaru Shiga and Takashi Noguchi, plus second-generation Piranha, Takashi Nishina and Akira Murota
- Tales of a Bit Player – a new interview with supporting actor and stuntman Seizo Fukumoto
- Original trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist
Written By Matt Reifschneider