Hai tiin yakuza
Teen Yakuza / High-Teen Yakuza
Jiro Tomoda (planner) for Nikkatsu
directed by Seijun Suzuki
starring Tamio Kawaji, Noriko Matsumoto, Keiko Sugiyama, Kayo Matsuo, Keiko Hara, Sazo Kiura, Asao Sano, Midori Tashiro, Kotoe Hatsui
written by Mamoru Okusono, Nozomu Yoshimura, music by Harumi Ibe
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High schoolers Jiro and Yoshio are best friends, who really are
interested first and foremostly in getting by and having fun, so nothing
unusual - but when they see two young gangsters try to extort
"protection money" from a restaurant owner, they feel that teach
those two thugs a lesson is the right thing to do ... and they're good at
it, giving their opponents a sound beating, until one of the hoodlums
draws a knife and cuts Yoshio's leg, effectively crippling him. Yoshio's
father, when he hears about this, wants to rush to his son's aide, but
gets killed in an accident on the way.
Yoshio now learns first hand what
it is to be crippled and without a father, not only is he laughed at, also
hid late father's customers refuse to pay what they owe him straight out,
just because they have no respect for him or his mother, and if that
drives Yoshio and mum to despair, so be it. But that makes Yoshio an easy
target for the K-Club, the local yakuza clan the thugs that crippled
Yoshio are actually members of. Now they welcome him with open arms and
promise to collect dad's money - for a small commission of course. And
Yoshio soon starts to enjoy yakuza life, and the reputation that comes
Jiro in the meantime has taken it upon himself to fight yakuza
extortionists wherever he can find them, and he's a good enough fighter to
usually emerge victorious, too. He becomes a champion of all neighbourhood
stores, and eventually, local businessmen start to pay him for protection.
So eventually, he becomes a problem for the K-Club, and they manage to
actually turn his virtue into his vice, reporting him to the police for
extorting protection money. Sure, the accusations don't stick and he's let
go before long - long enough for the yakuza to completely destroy his
reputation though and make him seem worse than any of them. But he's sure
he has done the right thing, even if his methods might have been wrong.
And he wants to continue doing good - but has to figure out a new approach
with his enemies seemingly having covered all the bases ...
Yakuza is a charming little teen flick that for sure has its heart in
the right place without hammering its message home. And it's all packed
into imagery that still looks fresh today, thanks to director Seijun
Suzuki, who hadn't earned his reputation as a cult filmmaker and notoriety
as a genre dissecter yet, but already showed signs of greatness in his
filmmaking ways, hiding irony in the shadows, going for unusual set-ups or
even visual compositions, all to give the viewer more than they've paid
For fans of Mr Suzuki, this movie sure is a precurser of things to
come, but even without that hindsight, this is good retro-entertainment