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DVD: Bloody Territories / Arakure (1969)
Review Rating:   Standard  
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Catalog #:

BLO 060

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1 (NTSC)

June 22, 2004



Genre: Crime / Drama / Yakuza  
The underworld activities of Japanese crime families turn to increasing levels of betrayal and violence in an atmosphere of false truces and police crackdowns.  



Directed by:

Yasuharu Hasebe
Screenplay by: Kazuo Aoiki
Music by: Hajime Kaburagi
Produced by: none credited

Akira Kobayashi, Tatsuya Fuji, Ryoji Hayama, Tadao Nakamaru, Yuriko Hime, Yoshi Kato, Takamaru Sasaki, and Bontaro Miake.

Film Length: 88 mins
Process/Ratio: 2.35 :1
Anamorphic DVD: Yes
Languages:   Japanese Mono
Subtitles:   English
Special Features :  

4 page colour booklet with Liner notes by American Cinematheque Programmer Chris D. / Cast and Crew Bio / Theatrical trailer for “ Bloody Territories ” and “Zatoichi on HVE DVD” / New Digital Transfer / New Subtitles / Director's Filmography

Comments :

Old school Yakuza had all the fun. You could hang out with a fiercely loyal bunch of guys, your income was guaranteed to be tax-free, and you got to extort, peddle narcotics, and beat up anyone who gets in your way. All you really had to worry about was being arrested or getting killed by rival Yakuza, and what is that in comparison to a tax audit?

The situation in Bloody Territories is pretty simple. Rival Yakuza families sign a truce that allows them to become legit businesses, with the exception of the renowned Onogi clan. Of course, being ‘legit' just means that you have a better cover for being a criminal, and the Onogi's are soon put upon by the rival Kansai association (who must have been busy on the day of the truce signing) and a shadowy conspiracy of ‘legit' businessmen.

As a crime movie, Bloody Territories is pretty dull. The ‘no honour among thieves' message (except for the noble Onogi Yakuza) is telegraphed in the first 10 minutes, and the rest of the film mostly consists of long scenes involving characters discussing what they're going to do (actually doing it takes very little screen time). The best thing about the film is the muted palette (think early 1960's crime comic books) and the beautifully shot street scenes- the film looks gritty and lived in, but feels like a drawing room piece. Extras include trailers for Bloody Territories and for HVE's upcoming Zatoichi releases, and some not-very-informative liner notes from American Cinematheque programmer Chris D.

Bloody Territories isn't a bad film, just disappointingly flat. At least the sheer formality Yakuza rituals are fascinating- they aren't great gun aficionados, and go to the trouble of stabbing their enemies with the proper weapon. You just don't get that kind of courtesy in a drive-by shooting, so credit where credit is due.

Yasuharu Hasebe's Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter is also available from HVE.


© 2004 Michael John Derbecker

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