As the webmaster of the Samurai Archives Japanese History Page, one would assume that my favorite Japanese film genre would be the Samurai film. A reasonable guess, however, my number one film genre of all time is the Japanese Yakuza film - which is where this blog comes in.
The Yakuza film is a genre all by itself, and really doesn't have a contemporary Hollywood counterpart. After all, violent films in which the protagonist is more bloodthirsty and cruel than the average Hollywood antagonist, and oftentimes lacks any sense of morals or compassion, or any redeeming qualities whatsoever, doesn't tend appear very often. One would be hard pressed to find a similar contemporary genre - the modern Yakuza film is much more akin to the classic American gangster film where sociopaths like Pretty Boy Floyd or John Dillinger wreak havoc and mayhem, kill without conscience, and only seem to have honor amongst their own kind. The art of the gangster film seems to have been lost in contemporary American film - the criminals are always portrayed as bad, and paired with a protagonist who will eventually do them in, or are likeable in a maverick sort of way, and eventually find redemption. There are exceptions, but not many - Natural Born Killers or Scarface comes to mind.
I decided to start a blog examining Yakuza films for a few reasons. Mostly, because I wanted an excuse to go back and rewatch my collection, but also to give me an excuse to watch the new stuff. I'll probably be focusing on the more contemporary films (within the last 10 years or so), but I'll also go back and rewatch the older films now and then. I'm no film student, and don't tend to care to read in too much to what I'm watching, nor do I have much interest in meta-analysis and other strange academic pastimes - I plan to review them for what they are - Yakuza films. I'll be starting this little experiment in the next few days with director Takashi Miike's 2002 film Graveyard of Honor 新仁義の墓場 (Shin Jingi no Hakaba).