Kinji Fukasaku (Battle Royale) gave the world Japan’s answer to The Godfather with this violent yakuza saga, influencing filmmakers from Quentin Tarantino (Kill Bill, Reservoir Dogs) to Takashi Miike (Graveyard of Honor, Audition). Made within just two years, the five-film series brought a new kind of realism and ferocity to the crime genre in Japan, revitalizing the industry and leading to unprecedented commercial and critical success.
Literally exploding onscreen with a mushroom cloud, and ending with Hiroshima’s A-bomb Dome, the epic story of Battles Without Honor and Humanity follows over 100 characters through twenty years of gang wars, alliances, betrayals, and assassinations, in an exciting exploration of criminal power and politics in Japan. In the opening episode, ex-soldier Shôzô Hirono escapes from the post-war black markets to become a key member of the Yamamori gang, but soon finds himself disillusioned by the selfish duplicity of his bosses. Hiroshima Death Match focuses on a demobilized kamikaze pilot drifting through the early 1950’s, whose suicidal impulses find good use as a mob assassin. Proxy War and Police Tactics form a labyrinthine, two-part story of ambition and betrayal set against Japan’s rapid economic growth of the 1960’s, with Shôzô caught between warring factions. Final Episode concludes the series in the 1970’s as the former Yamamori gang transforms itself into an economic conglomerate called the Tensei Group, in a bid for mainstream respectability.
Fukasaku and his team broke with the longstanding studio tradition of casting marquee idols as honorable, kimono-clad heroes, defending their gang bosses against unscrupulous villains, and instead adapted true accounts torn from the headlines, shot in a documentary-like style, and with few clear-cut heroes or villains. The vibrancy and dynamism of the filmmaking, plus its shocking violence, Shakespearean plotlines, and wide tapestry of characters, launched a revolutionary new genre, establishing the series as one of the great masterpieces of world crime cinema.
Reviews"A violent saga awash in blood, betrayal, treachery and aggression."
- DVD Talk
"A nihilistic epic unlike any other."
- DVD Beaver
Limited Edition Blu-ray Collection (2500 copies)
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of all five original films
Original Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-rays)
Optional English subtitles for all five films
Limited Edition packaging and reversible sleeves for all five films including original and newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist
BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR AND HUMANITY (DISCS 1 & 2)
Brand new audio commentary by critic and author Stuart Galbraith IV
Yakuza Graveyard– a new interview with Takashi Miike about Kinji Fukasaku and the yakuza film genre
Original trailers for all five films
HIROSHIMA DEATH MATCH (DISCS 3 & 4)
Man of Action – a new interview with series fight choreographer Ryuzô Ueno
PROXY WAR (DISCS 5 & 6)
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 Seizô Fukumoto
POLICE TACTICS (DISCS 7 & 8)
Remembering Kinji – a new featurette about director Kinji Fukasaku and his work, featuring interviews with Kenta Fukasaku and film critic and Fukasaku biographer Sadao Yamane
Fukasaku Family – a new interview with Proxy War and Police Tactics assistant director Tôru Dobashi
FINAL EPISODE (DISCS 9 & 10)
Last Days of the Boss – a new interview with Final Episode screenwriter Kôji Takada
Original poster gallery for the series
THE COMPLETE SAGA (DISCS 11, 12 & 13) [LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE]
English-subtitled premiere of the 224-minute compilation edition of the first four films, previously screened only as part of a limited Japanese theatrical release in 1980 and on the Toei cable channel
Introduction by Complete Saga editorial supervisor Tôru Dobashi
THE YAKUZA PAPERS [LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE]
152-page hardback book featuring writing on the history of the yakuza film genre, including a newly-reprinted and fully annotated edition of Paul Schrader’s classic 1974 Film Comment essay Yakuza-Eiga: A Primer, a new, exclusive English translation of screenwriter Kazuo Kasahara’s 1974 Scenario magazine essay on his writing process for the first four films, as well as new essays and interviews from Chris D., Grady Hendrix, Patrick Macias, Tom Mes, Mark Schilling, and Jasper Sharp.