I Saw A Film!
Never mind the plot, it’s not important, what we have here is a terrific action film wrapped around a former Yakuza strongman, who no longer wants to work for the mob. He’s being influenced by the trials and tribulations of a pair of ladies. One the sister of his dead buddy, a victim of Yakuza BS, being forced to work as a prostitute the other a sweetheart hoping to extract him from this awful existence.
Gangland films are often built on stylishness and beauty, this film foregoes all the tattoos, suits and posturing, and throbbing nightclubs, instead what we get is street level grittiness of a petty criminal world. The thugs are proper louts, the heroes are disillusioned louts having the veil lifted from their eyes.
Best of all, Goro the Assassin is not a sexy ass-kicking machine with the choreographed ballet so often provided the heroes of these tales. While we hope for him to crush the scumbags–and they are scumbags, there’s not a whit that’s sexy or appealing about them–his method is all in and about as pretty to watch as a mosh-pit. He isn’t suddenly a martial arts expert with decades of drilling in a dojo. He gets beat up and takes a lot of damage. Fights are clumsy and catastrophic, overturning furniture and kicking up muck. The blades these fighters use are the short sword and they clang and swish the air with aplomb.
The one drawback of this aging gangster film is the music. I don’t know why it is but foreign films, especially from Asia (Hong Kong, Japan, India), are awfully sentimental things often really wallowing in any kind of emotionalism, for my tastes they’re always so over the top it’s a bit cringe-worthy. Goro the Assassin is full of wah-wah affected trumpet music any time you’re supposed to be grokking the idea that there’s a moral or a line the protagonist wants to stand on. It’s OK, it could be a lot worse, we could be being fed Bollywood “item numbers” which are a whole other story.
Goro is free on Prime and while it’s rough and tumble it fills a niche in realism that I didn’t even know existed.