REVIEWED BY- STEVE GENIER DIRECTED BY- YASUSHI AKIMOTO CAST- TAKAAKI ISHIBASHI, REIKO TAKASHIMA and NOAKI HOSAKA. SOURCE- AMUSE SOFT DVD (JAPAN) NTSC REG 2
After serving time in prison, a yakuza (TAKAAKI ISHIBASHI) decides to go straight, getting married to a long time girlfriend (REIKO TAKASHIMA) and becoming a salaryman, earning a living by selling door mats. Of course, once in the yakuza, no matter what you do, you are always a yakuza. As his former gang gear up for battle against those who have been killing off members of their gang and rival gangs along the East. Thinking that the threat comes from the gangs from the West, they decide that they must form an alliance with the rival gangs in order to stand their ground. Little do they know that the thread is coming from within their own origination. Getting pressured from an aging cop who is a constant thorn in his side, and the pile up of deaths soon become to much for the ex-yakuza. As he has determined who the real thread is, and decides to temporarily come out of retirement to clean up the situation.
After hearing little about this film when I first seen itís release onto DVD, I decided it was about time to break the silence and let those of North American fans a little more about JUSEI. Touted as something that John Woo might have been still directing if he were still in Hong Kong, I thought that this would surely be a high octane outing indeed. Well, that wasnít so at all, this wasnít a dead end be now means, but it certainly wasnít an HARD BOILED either. The I started thing well, I had also heard rumblings of this being an example of the new wave of Japanese film noir, that again wasnít really what I felt either. What I did get after watching this film though was a great story line with solid characters and a power punch for an ending. Just because I said it wasnít no HARD BOILED doesnít mean it didnít have itís gun play.
Though it was pretty much spread out, there was some real hard nosed gun scenes. At the beginning you are treated to a hit taking place at a Chinese restaurant where the high ranking leaders of the local yakuza groups have gathered. On one wall there is a big ass fish aquarium, that pretty much takes up the whole wall. Inside that huge glass case of water is a hitman with a semi-automatic aimed to kill. The with one puncture of the glass, the water comes gushing out and the bullets start spraying those in the room. After that scene, there is little areas of gun play in between that and the big showdown near the end. LAST DROP OF BLOOD relays itís strong characters and solid storyline to carry the load, and it doesnít fail. You really develop a strong liking to the lead character, thus rooting him back out of retirement a lot sooner then his does in the film.
This is certainly a different pace of Yakuza film from much of the norm coming out of Japan of late. With director like Takashi Miike, and Takeshi Kitano tearing up the scene with their no rules, who cares style of film making. Itís actually nice to see that there is a different approach almost traditional style still being explored and pumped out from time too time. Not that thereís a problem with Miikeís and Kitanoís product, itís just nice to be able to relax in between from time to time. Though with LAST DROP OF BLOOD, all isnít vacation by no means, there is still quite the amount of bloodletting as well. Not to forget plenty of hardware on display as well. Also keep your eyes open for the super sexy Tamao Sato who some would remember from SUICIDE CLUB.
Now, even though the Amuse Soft DVD is a Japanese release, it is still quite a nice investment especially for those who really enjoy good Yakuza films. Presented in anamorphic wide-screen, audio being in Japanese with removable English subtitles. Of course you have the original track in 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS. Now, the extras are a different story, there are tons of great stuff to check out on this disc, but sadly itís all in Japanese. Extras which include an interview with director Yasushi Akimoto, the making of which is really just a behind the scenes look at them shooting a few scenes. Something you really donít need any English to understand. The usual actor and director bioís, that unless you can read Japanese, wonít get a handle on. The real kicker with the extras though is the last feature. An area which is called the "Gun Gallery", in it they display and describe all the different types of guns used during the shooting of the film. With each description you can also see what part of the film that particular gun is used in. I know that this is still a Japanese release and it costs major mola, but it may take awhile before you see this up for a legit region 1 release. There is no current Hong Kong region 3 release of this either. Though I have seen some bootleg DVDRs hovering around here and there.
STORY-4 BITCH SLAPS PICTURE-4 BITCH SLAPS AUDIO-4 BITCH SLAPS EXTRAS-3.5 BITCH SLAPS OVERALL DVD-3.5 BITCH SLAPS
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