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February 2, 2011

Movie Review: Graveyard Of Honor (2002, AnimEigo )

By Dineh Tom

Fans of Japanese cinema remember the name Ichi. They also remember the very distinct way Ichi killed people . Others may remember “Audition.” Just thinking about that one always makes me think of needles. Sharp, razor sharp needles, and maybe making sure my fly is zipped nice and tightly. Personally, I’m always going to remember, “Imprint.” Wholly, that story is just a nightmare. The film is technically brilliant, but the things you see in that will haunt me for years. Wonderful film, but prepare yourself my friends. Now, my journey has brought me to “Graveyard of Honor,” by the one and only Takashi Miike.

Buy Graveyard of Honor on DVD

“Graveyard of Honor” begins by an assassination attempt on a Yakuza boss. As the man attempting the assassination is about to fire his gun, our main character, Ishimatsu Rikuo, stops the killer and suddenly turns from low wage dish man, to a superior ranking Yakuza member. We learn more about Ishimatsu through various ways he treats his girl, drinking habits, and behavior. The story starts to get even more interesting as Ishimatsu looks for his boss one day and his fellow yakuza members don’t exactly tell him the truth. He gets outraged which eventually leads him to shooting his fellow boss, thus beginning the old gang war between two families. Throughout this period he starts to shoot heroin, which only turns our man into a filthy mess.

Let me say I’ve always been interested in the Yakuza. In various films they’ve always been seen as impeccably dressed with shades and guns. Then, I learned about the finger cutting and ranks. I bought a booked called Confessions of a Yakuza, which made me realize that this organized crime group has a lot history. Bring together Miike and Yakuza, and my expectations were thinking of some bizarre outlandish scenes with tons of blood and maybe a big shock factor.

I was wrong. This film reminded me of a true gangster film. Almost like “Scarface” in a way, but uniquely it’s own. The jazz score throughout the film may have played a big part in that feeling. It was smooth, rich, and classy. Our main character was not a man to be heroic. He was a Yakuza! He showed no sympathy. I hated him throughout the film and kept waiting and waiting for someone to show him, teach him, and change him. The violence felt really realistic, and a few parts were definitely Miike like in a bloody way. Almost like a documentary, it made me think about society and people. The film definitely impressed me with the fact that Takashi Miike is one extremely multi-talented filmmaker. I recommend this DVD to any Yakuza film nerd, or gangster film nerd.

If you’re really interested in more about how the film was made the AnimEigo DVD has featurettes that show production and interviews with the cast and crew. Something I always enjoy on DVD. Very impressive!

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