|Yakuza Graveyard (1976)|
|Starring:||Tetsuya Watari, Meiko Kaji and Hideo Murota|
|The Plot: Our film begins with a young man being hoisted out of a pachinko parlor after being hustled for some money by the Yakuza managers. While no one is looking, we are introduced to Kuroiwa (Tetsuya Watari) who grabs the young man’s pachinko balls. When Kuroiwa tries to cash them in, the gangsters start to hustle him in the same manner that they did the previous young punk. What they don’t know is that this is not a man to be trifled with. After giving up his money, Kuroiwa then follows the gangsters and shows them his badge and reveals that he is actually a cop. Kuroiwa places the punks under arrest, but is soon watching them hit the streets due to their yakuza ties. It turns out that Kuroiwa is a policeman with a haunted past. After a raid went down poorly, he found himself firing a bullet into the back of a yakuza after his partner had been shot in the shoulder. This landed Kuroiwa in a ton of hot water and has essentially ruined his career up until this point. Feeling indignant at his role in society, being a honest cop in a world of corruption, Kuroiwa is focused entirely on taking down the yakuza. However, as Kuroiwa ponders his life, he begins to find himself siding more with the yakuza than with the police department that he has swore his allegiance to.|
Tetsuya Watari, in the role of Kuroiwa, doesn’t so much step onto the screen as he immediately erupts into the audience. A character that is so boisterous and exuding machismo that he doesn’t even have to say a word for the audience to understand that he is “the man.” This character of Kuroiwa is completely unorthodox, but he represents a unwavering belief in justice, regardless of what side of the law he finds himself. It could be argued that Yakuza Graveyard starts off as the Japanese version of Dirty harry, however, this is a cop who isn’t so indignant that he doesn’t understand the world around him. Where films such as Dirty Harry and Death Wish both represented a very black and white ideal version of the criminal element, where the bad guys were utterly evil an the good guys were filled with virtue, Fukasaku’s film likes to reside right in the middle ground. Inevitably, as the movie progresses, Kuroiwa becomes one with the criminal world that he has swore to arrest. Through the character of Keiko (played by Meiko Kaji) and her friend who is the leader of the Nishida clan (also a half breed, and played by Hideo Murota), he finds himself becoming a honorary member of the yakuza. Although the instincts that they have tried to teach him through police work tell him to not play these friends too close, he finds with this group the family that he has never had. They are mixed breeds like himself, and together this trio find that they are the only ones that they can depend upon in the crooked Japanese society.