It seems that I am often my own worst enemy in making things far more harder for myself than they should actually be. However, in all honesty it would probably help just a little if I could resist temptation just once or twice in my life. Take the last week or so, as stressful times in my day job were leading me to look forward to the Christmas and new year break as an opportunity to chill out and catch up on some seriously neglected 'fun' reading. The blogging I thought would take a back seat for a start, I remember promising myself that at least....... well that promise to myself didn't last long at all.
Firstly, I was informed by my son that the fabulous new 5D website was going to be ready at last and in time for a Christmas release on an unsuspecting world. Notions of taking it easy soon departed as I looked and played with the wonder that is my new website - mouth watering indeed. If you don't believe me then you can see for yourself at www.5d-blog.com
The second thing was receiving an email from the lovely people at Arrow Films who mentioned that they were thrilled to announce the release of a new limited edition box-set featuring Kinji Fukasaku’s iconic Yakuza film series Battles Without Honour and Humanity. THEY were thrilled???!!! - well that's nothing compared to how I felt when I read the information because I was positively catatonic with uncontrolled excitement. This feeling further increased another tenfold when I learnt that the whole five film series, shot within just two years, Battles Without Honour and Humanity, Hiroshima Death Match, Proxy War, Police Tactics and Final Episode, were all being included in one sublime package.
I first came into contact with Fukasaku's seminal work a few years ago when a friend and I were extolling together on the genius of a certain Quentin Tarantino who had recently released Kill Bill. Volume 1. My good friend advised me that if I love Tarantino (who incidentally, I do so as much as ever) then I would simply adore a director who, along with the likes of Sergio Leone and Akawa Kurosawa, were undeniably the three greatest influences on good old Quentin's work. Now, my friend was, and still is, the font of all great knowledge and so I took him at his word and immediately tried to get my hands on the works of Kinji Fukusaku, regarded by many in the know as Japan's answer to The Godfather. By god, when I found the films, I was hooked.
I'm not really really sure what effected me most the very first time I watched Battles Without Honour and Humanity - whether it was the sheer pulsating vigour and energy of the camerawork and direction, the adrenaline-fuelled plot line or the myriad of characters who were each as complex and textured as the other.
There was no clean cut square jawed one dimensional hero who stood steadfast and true against the big bad nasty one dimensional villain. No sir, in this story the heroes have their dark side, with the villains equally textured and layered in terms of character and motivation.
And boy was it violent - deliciously so in fact in terms of it's documentary style realism which serves makes it at times a sublimely shocking viewing experience.
The five films (remember, all produced over a staggering two year period) are quite simply one masterpiece after the other and often regarded as a Japanese answer to The Godfather Trilogy - well I have news for you, the saga is far better. Fukusako may have been influenced by Coppola, but that Tarantino guy certainly knows how to choose his influences too.
The limited edition collection, with only 2,500 copies being made available, will also include The Complete Saga, an English-subtitled premiere of the 224 minute composite edit of the first four films, alongside various new documentaries, interviews, featurettes and a 152-page hardback book featuring writing on the history of the yakuza film genre, films and filmmakers. The set was to be released on Blu-ray and DVD on 7th December 2015.
· Limited Edition Blu-ray Collection (2500 copies)
· High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of all five original films
· Original Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-rays)
· Optional English subtitles for all five films
· Limited Edition packaging and reversible sleeves for all five films including original and newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist
BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR AND HUMANITY (DISCS 1 & 2)
· Brand new audio commentary by critic and author Stuart Galbraith IV
· Yakuza Graveyard – a new interview with Takashi Miike about Kinji Fukasaku and the yakuza film genre
· Original trailers for all five films
HIROSHIMA DEATH MATCH (DISCS 3 & 4)
· Man of Action – a new interview with series fight choreographer Ryuzo Ueno
· Original Trailer
PROXY WAR (DISCS 5 & 6)
· Secrets of the Piranha Army – a new documentary about the troupe of supporting actors who appeared throughout the series, featuring interviews with original Piranha members Masaru Shiga and Takashi Noguchi, plus second-generation Piranha, Takashi Nishina and Akira Murota
· Tales of a Bit Player – a new interview with supporting actor and stuntman Seizo Fukumoto
· Original Trailer
POLICE TACTICS (DISCS 7 & 8)
· Remembering Kinji – a new featurette about director Kinji Fukasaku and his work, featuring interviews with Kenta Fukasaku and film critic and Fukasaku biographer Sadao Yamane
· Fukasaku Family – a new interview with Proxy War and Police Tactics assistant director Toru Dobashi
· Original Trailer
FINAL EPISODE (DISCS 9 & 10)
· Last Days of the Boss – a new interview with Final Episode screenwriter Koji Takada
· Original poster gallery for the series
· Original Trailer
THE COMPLETE SAGA (DISCS 11, 12 & 13) [LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE]
· English-subtitled premiere of the 224-minute compilation edition of the first four films, previously screened only as part of a limited Japanese theatrical release in 1980 and on the Toei cable channel
· Introduction by Complete Saga editorial supervisor Toru Dobashi
THE YAKUZA PAPERS [LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE]
· 152-page hardback book featuring writing on the history of the yakuza film genre, including a newly-reprinted and fully annotated edition of Paul Schrader’s classic 1974 Film Comment essay Yakuza-Eiga: A Primer, a new, exclusive English translation of screenwriter Kazuo Kasahara’s 1974 Scenario magazine essay on his writing process for the first four films, as well as new essays and interviews from Chris D., Grady Hendrix, Patrick Macias, Tom Mes, Mark Schilling, and Jasper Sharp
Monday 7th December 2015
Blu-ray Cat Number
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