28 May 2024
Sonny Chiba In Yakuza Wolf 1 & 2

Film Review – Yakuza Wolf 1 & 2 (1972)


This release gave me whiplash. On the one hand, I found one of the films in this release to be disgusting and cruel. On the other I found the other title to be an utter blast and a great time. Starring the late great Sonny Chiba these two-revenge tales are interesting to talk about but for different reasons.

Yakuza Wolf: I Perform Murder follows Sonny Chiba as a man on a vengeance. His goal is to get two rival clans to fight each other so that he can achieve his goals. It has narrative similarities to Yojimbo but combines them with the style of a spaghetti western. Which when it works leads to an interesting watch. However, those scenes are too far between to lead to an interesting film. This film is sleazy to its core and filled with awful and grotesque depictions of sexual assault. I am not against having scenes of sexual assault in a narrative but every time it is featured in this film it never adds anything to the narrative and feels like a way to show naked women. These scenes while not frequent are present enough to turn me off to the entire film. It does not help that the rest of the film ranges from ok to utterly boring. Not even Sonny Chiba could save this film. The only positive I have for this film is that I do love the spaghetti western vibes.

I was so turned off by Yakuza Wolf 1 that I was close to not watching the sequel, but I am glad I did watch it. Yakuza Wolf: Extend My Condolences is a sequel in name alone for 95% of it. While yes it follows Sonny Chiba’s character as he wants revenge against a yakuza clan. However, that is where the similarities end. This film is a blast. At moments it has a buddy cop/Oceans 11 vibe to it when it’s about forming the perfect team to get revenge. It has a fun and wacky tone to it with moments of melodrama to spice things up. The story is simple, but the tone and characters are just enjoyable to watch. This in turn leads to action scenes that are engaging to watch as you are invested in the story and characters. Every action scene is fantastic, while not amazingly presented it is shot so that you can see everything action beat. The stunt work though is astounding. A stunt involving a bridge, contains one shot that I found to be mind-blowing, and it is a nail-biting and thrilling scene. I loved Yakuza Wolf 2 and it brightened up my day.

If this release was solely for Yakuza Wolf 1, I would not be recommending this release as I found it so mean. I believe I am in the minority and if you do not mind sleazy and cruel movies you may like Yakuza Wolf 1 but I did not. However, Yakuza Wolf 2 is the opposite of the first one and is a film I would recommend to most Asian cinema fans. This Eureka release is everything you know and love. It has great bonus features and artwork so if these films pique your interest check this out. It is the definitive way to watch these films.

★★★

Out Now on Blu-ray / Sonny Chiba, Kôji Nanbara, Tsunehiko Watase / Dir: Ryuichi Takamori and Buichi Saitô / Eureka Entertainment / 18


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