Coming to Blu-Ray/DVD May 12th from Arrow Video in limited quantity is Yasuharu Hesebe’s follow up to ‘Massacre Gun,’ ‘Retaliation.’ This is Arrow’s 3rd Nikkatsu release and will be available for the first time on Blu-Ray anywhere!
From Arrow Video:
In 1969 future sexploitation specialist Yasuharu Hasebe (Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter) teamed up with the inimitable Jo Shishido (Tokyo Drifter, Branded to Kill) for a follow up to their yakuza hit Massacre Gun. A tale of gang warfare that features a raft of the period’s most iconic stars, Akira Kobayashi (Battles Without Honor and Humanity, The Flowers and the Angry Waves) is a yakuza lieutenant who emerges from jail to find his gang dispersed and his aging boss in his sickbed. Shishido is the rival waiting to kill him and a young Meiko Kaji (Lady Snowblood) is the girl caught in the crossfire. Gritty and cynical, Retaliation is a hardboiled precursor to Kinji Fukasaku’s revisionist yakuza pictures of the 1970s.
Jiro Samukawa (Akira Kobayashi) is a freshly released from prison yakuza thug, and mere minutes after he walks out of the prison gate, he is assaulted by Hino (Jo Shishido), who is seeking vengeance for the death of his brother at the hands of Jiro. His quest for revenge is interrupted by his girl and he vows to Jiro that it isn’t over. Jiro goes home to find his Godfather’s health is ailing, and the family disbanded, leaving only Joji (Tatsuya Fuji) to help the Godfather. Jiro is also told that the Hazama Don is taking care of his Godfather, paying all the hospital bills. Jiro goes to thank him and pay his respects and is offered a job to be in charge of a boom city to procure some land from farmers so that a factory may be built. The rub is that there are other gangs that need to be eliminated. Jiro talks it over with his Godfather and Joji, who sees it as a chance to rebuild the family. Jiro accepts the offer with the only catch being that he is allowed to run things his way and is introduced to his men: a failed actor, failed singers, and a card cheat. Hino is picked up by the Hazama family and tell him to lay off Jiro. He then decides to join Jiro in his fight, but only to preserve his chance for vengeance once this is all over. Together they work to infiltrate rival families and bring them down from the inside but soon Jiro learns that there is no honor among thieves.
‘Retaliation‘ does its best to deglorify the yakuza lifestyle by showing how Jiro has to sacrifice one of his best men to keep the Hazama plot going, but he does so with a heavy heart. With this being a follow up to ‘Massacre Gun,’ there is a tonal shift with ‘Retaliation’ being in color and the lack of guns throughout the film, as only 1 shot is fired; the battles are fought with swords and knives. Akira Kobayahsi does a great job in this film, as does Jo Shishido, when he is on the screen. Their chemistry is undeniable as each time Jiro makes a plan with his comrades, Hino says something to the effect of, “Hurry up so I can kill you, Jiro,” and to that, Jiro just smirks.
In this lifestyle, the only certainties are: attack, retaliation, and death.
- Limited Edition Blu-ray (3000 copies only)
- Restored High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation, on Blu-ray for the first time in the world!
- Original uncompressed mono PCM audio
- Newly translated English subtitles
- Interview with renowned critic and historian Tony Rayns
- Original theatrical trailer
- Gallery featuring rare promotional images
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ian MacEwan
- Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp, newly illustrated by Ian MacEwan and featuring original archive stills
You can pre-order here