Blu-Ray Review – Massacre Gun (1967)
Massacre Gun follows the story of Kuroda (Jô Shishido) a grief stricken mobster who was forced to kill his lover under his boss’s orders. Now over the edge, Kuroda teams up with two wronged brothers from a local dive bar, a young talented boxer – Saburô (Jirô Okazaki) and his short tempered older brother Eiji. Together they start planning on how they can turning the tables on Yakuza.
Massacre Gun is a tale of more victims caught in the world of organised crime – more importantly the Yakuza! Director Yasuharu Hasebe (Retaliation) delivers us this look at the criminal underworld. It’s more or less people running away from the inevitable – they’ve got themselves in too deep, people around them are paying for their sins and it’s not looking good.
Yakuza movies are fascinating and terrifying at the same time. The scene where Saburo is at the beach with his love interest and when they get over the hill they come across half a dozen mobsters coming towards them? It’s amazing scene, the cinematography and the production value – that shot of Jiro running past the burning ship with the look of utter fear across his face! It’s easily one of the most stand out moments of the film – perfectly captured on film.
We’re given a near twenty minute interview with Jô Shishido he discussed his life leading to films everything from playing with swords and pistols as a child, his inspirations as an actor and of course his experiences starring in Massacre Gun. He is great appreciation for assistant directors who became directors and continued to keep the genres alive. He also reveals his admirations for the westerns, he backs that statement up with a quick draw demonstration joking with crew members off camera proclaiming that “I can shoot you”. It’s a good interview, Shishido is one of these great stars that you could listen to for hours.
Tony Rayn gives us a thirty minute history lesson on the famous Nikkatsu production company. He highlights several directors and their most notable films from the studio. It’s a good jumping off point if you’ve seen both Massacre Gun & Retaliation and you’re wondering where to look next.
We’re also treated to the films trailer and a slideshow photo gallery showing the stills taken during the production of the film – including that shot I mentioned earlier of Sabura running the from mob at the beach.
It’s great to see these seemingly unknown films (in the west) actually get re-released to these British and American audiences. I’m more than happy to welcome any other hidden gems from 1960’s Japanese cinema.