AKA: The Five
Director: Takashi Ishii
Writer: Takashi Ishii
Producer: Kazuyoshi Okuyama
Cast: Koichi Sato, Masahiro Motoki, Jinpachi Nezu, Kippei Shiina, Naoto Takenaka, Takeshi Kitano, Kazuya Kimura
Running Time: 109 min.
In 1995, stylish director, Takashi Ishii, brought us a great crime/yakuza piece called Gonin (The Five). It revolved around a disco owner convincing 4 other guys to go along with him in a planned heist of the local Yakuza thugs for over 100 million yen (something like $1,000,000 in cold, hard cash). The heist is successful, however, the Yakuza, obviously perturbed at the theft, send out 2 hit men (one of which is played by Beat Takeshi) to kill The Five.
This movie has a lot going for it. One thing that I loved was the delusions of many of the characters at various points throughout the movie. Whether it comes in the form of hallucinations or simply outright insanity, it makes this a far from normal gangster/theft/revenge movie. The style is yet another thing to behold; Lots of cutting quickly between coinciding events (and back and forth, and back again) and the simply out of this world characters. For example, there’s a guy who dresses as a flaming homosexual in order to attract rich men whom he can turn around and black-mail. In that persona, he’s quite over the top, yet, when he’s in his normal clothes, he acts quite normal (if a bit excitable). I can’t say this is the most stylish film I’ve ever seen, nor can I say that I was really blown away by it for the first third to a half, but it did end up being quite enjoyable.
I’m sure this is on every fan of Yakuza films’ list of to see movies, as well it should be. It’s a great addition to the genre. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, nor does it mock itself too greatly. It’s got the right mix of style, substance, seriousness and insanity.
Equinox21’s Rating: 8/10