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New Battles Without Honor And Humanity Trilogy Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Review

Honor

The “New Battles Without Honor And Humanity” trilogy will appeal to gangster film fans.

After helming the Battles Without Honor And Humanity 5 film series, director Kinji Fukasaku followed up that series with a new trilogy. None of the films are connected to one another and are all set in different time periods, but they all star Bunta Sugawara and revolve around the Yakuza, money, power, backstabbing, gang wars, murder, and womanizing (the films can be quite sexist towards women).

The first film in this trilogy of violent and gritty gangster films is “New Battles Without Honor And Humanity.” Set in 1950, the story revolves around Maki who is a member of the Yamamori gang. After spending time in jail, he is released back into the world only to find another member (Aoki) is trying to rise to power. Maki becomes caught in the middle of Aoki and Yamamori as he is unsure of who to side with. Eventually, he has to choose. The story is rather simplistic and much of the film is devoted to discussions about what to do about Aoki, but the film is a solid gangster story nonetheless.

The second film (The Boss’s Head) is easily the best of the trilogy. It has the best pacing, it has the most drama, it’s darker in tone, it has the most developed characters and the action is quite impressive (the climactic car chases are particularly noteworthy). The story finds a wanderer named Shuji who spends 7 years in jail. After being released, Shuji is expecting to be paid handsomely but is screwed over by a power hungry gangster named Aihara. Eventually, both men start targeting each other for death, but who will come out on top? The story also involves a crucial subplot involving a drug addicted gangster named Kusonoki (I won’t say how he is involved in the plot).

The trilogy closes out with the weakest of the lot, “Last Days of the Boss.” Even if it’s intentional, this is a downright chaotic movie that focuses heavily on gang warfare, the Yakuza hierarchy, shootouts, and lots of death. The central story involves feuding gangs and a worker (Nozaki) turned crime boss who is seeking revenge for the death of his boss. It’s a very busy revenge movie with too many characters and gangs to keep track of. There’s not a lot to latch onto here as there is less characterization than its predecessors.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 2.35:1 1080p. How do they look? The transfers for the three films are very strong. You can tell the prints have been cleaned up (even if some of the colors still appear a bit faded).

Audio Track: Uncompressed Japanese Mono. How does it sound? The tracks are all lively. No complaints.

Extras: * A thick booklet featuring credits, photos, essays by critic and professor Stephen Sarrazin, author Tom Mes, writer Hayley Scanlon, author Chris D., writer Marc Walkow, interpreter Toshiko Adilman, * Original teaser and theatrical trailer for “New Battles Without Honor And Humanity,” “The Boss’s Head,” and the original theatrical trailer for “Last Days Of The Boss.” * “Beyond The Films: Battles Without Honor And Humanity”- Fukasaku biographer Sadao Yamane talks about the director, the trilogy of films, etc. * “Koji Takada: New Stories, New Battles”- Screenwriter Koji Takada talks about Fukusaku and collaborating with him, the old and new Battles Without Honor series, “The Boss’s Head,” the cast and characters, and more. * “Koji Takada: Closing Stories”- Another interview with the screenwriter. This one primarily concerns “Last Days Of The Boss” and the end of the series.

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August 28, 2017 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , ,

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