With a title like that how can you not select?
and so I Saw A Film!
This is basically a feuding mobsters film, I’m probably supposed to say “Yakuza” but the typical signals for that type of film aren’t here, no sprawling tattoos or pinky removal via tanto scenes. What we get instead are three brothers who are fed up with their boss’s violent demands, though not fed up soon enough to not kill off a lovely sweet lady, which the film opens with setting my jaw against the main chipmunk-cheeked protagonist Kuroda played by Jo Shishido (star of tons of crime and violence films in the sixties). The youngest brother is a drummer in the brother’s hip jazz establishment (though they don’t care to really make it look like the fellow can play). After the death of the sweetheart, the brothers have a fight and while we’re not let in on the meaning of the order to kill the hapless woman, the brothers set themselves against their villainous boss.
Such is the set up. I don’t know how people in these criminal organizations ever manage to maintain them. 1. It doesn’t really take any special training to be a violent criminal. 2. Anyone can shout and growl as if they are in charge, so there’s really nothing stopping anyone in that quality. 3. The usual tools of terrorizing people are in everyone’s reach. So how does “organization” maintain itself? Well, like any small business certain economic capabilities need to be maintained, and so a bit of wealth keeps those who haven’t got their own means of acquiring it maintained. However, once you’re set on stealing that wealth, that’s not going to maintain much for long. So there’s not much in the way of any kind of trust that can be built, until your partners in crime actually need to rely on your favor to take care of family. It’s a kind of skill-less risk-reward model that is high on the risk. There seems to be a sort of universal, built-in, desire to be part of a tribe that thousands of years of living in small hunter-gatherer groups probably instilled in us better than any other trait, and so while socially conscious law abiding people build a progressively better and better world, built on the back of trust and cooperation it’s to be expected that bands of parasites will erupt to leech their needs through extortion and violence. We don’t really care about that bit, we are wrapped up in the drama of these brothers going off to undo their former boss’s hold on the community. My point is, this just couldn’t possibly be expected to go well.
It’s nice to see that the Japanese are no strangers to overwrought drama. The same sorts of tear-jerking sequences equipped with cloying string music accompaniment push your face into the difficult moments that you saw coming a mile away. How can the brothers manage to stay alive as they poach the paying shops (one of them a recreational archery den, cool that!) formerly in the pay of their boss? Well of course everything comes to a head. But I’m still thinking about that sweet lady eldest brother Kuroda shot on the pier, and we’re not really in love with anyone, but maybe the drummer boy (who seems the only one with a conscience and because he’s a musician, I have a soft spot for the artists).
One particular death scene has the middle brother doing a lengthy bullet-ridden dance, bullets impacting him spinning him around and jerking him left and right like a string puppet for a solid minute. Instead of drama, we’re cackling at the comedy of it. How long does this scene go on? No soldier anywhere in the world, no matter how hyped up on PCP could last that long with those impacts. For a culture of people against firearms (they shun their use, but take to them readily in the film) they sure do burn up the ammo.
The final sequence gives more love to the firearms, a major shootout with the other team in revenge for the previous revenge for the avenging revenge, you know the drill. Somehow our protagonist in his death throes comes close to his old buddy in arms, a fellow he didn’t want to have to shoot and who didn’t want to shoot him, aw. More sweet love is spent between these two killers than for the poor victim in the opening sequence, who we never learn the story of. Hard to care!
This runs free on prime and is no worse than any other typical suits with guns trying to dominate each other type pissing contest. And you get to practice your Japanese.
One thought on “Massacre Gun (1967)”
Nice find! Good title too! When you’re in the mood, this kind of unpretentious shoot-em-up is something of a relief!