by Mighty_Emperor | created - 07 Aug 2012 | updated - 9 months ago | Public

Yakuza films.

They have gone through a number of stages:

* Beginning - although most of the pre-WWII films are missing, some like Chuji Tabinikki Daisanbu Goyohen (1927), are still being found.

* Ninkyo eiga - chivalry films in the 1960s, with Seijun Suzuki being one of the more prominent directors, until he got sacked for getting too experimental, and Ken Takakura being a well-known face in front of the camera.

* Jitsuroku eiga - docudrama films in the 1970s, as typified by Kinji Fukasaku films, like Battles Without Honor and Humanity, usually set in the post-War period.

* Resurgence - yakuza films went off the radar in the 1980s and returned in the mid-90s thanks to prolific directors like Takeshi Kitano and Takashi Miike, the latter pushing the films into increasingly strange areas (while still delivering more conventional takes on the genre).

Further reading: Mark Schilling (2003). The Yakuza Movie Book : A Guide to Japanese Gangster Film.

See also: Jidaigeki for period Japanese films (with which there is some crossover with this list).

Comments: As I don't have a Facebook account I cannot interact with the new comments system, so have switched it off. I will start a thread on the message board and link it in here shortly.

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1. Like a Dragon (2007)

Not Rated | 110 min | Action, Crime, Drama

Cult Japanese director Takashi Miike draws inspiration from the popular Playstation 2 title Yakuza for this unhinged tale of underworld violence in Tokyo starring Goro Kishitani and Kazuki ... See full summary »

Director: Takashi Miike | Stars: Kazuki Kitamura, Gorô Kishitani, Shun Shioya, Saeko

Votes: 1,268

Here to provide the list with a thumbnail graphic, the list begins below:

5. Drunken Angel (1948)

Not Rated | 102 min | Crime, Drama, Romance

A drunken doctor with a hot temper and a violence-prone gangster with tuberculosis form a quicksilver bond.

Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Takashi Shimura, Toshirô Mifune, Reizaburô Yamamoto, Michiyo Kogure

Votes: 9,032

aka Jirocho Sangokushi 2: First Journey

aka Jirocho Sangokushi 3: Jirocho and Ishimatsu

aka Jirocho Sangokushi 4: All Gathered at Shimizu Harbor

aka Jirocho Sangokushi 5: Violence on the Koshu Road

aka Jirocho Sangokushi 6: Jirocho's Family of Wanderers

aka Jirocho Sangokushi 7: First Celebration at Shimizu Harbor

aka Jirocho Sangokushi 8: Last of the Wild Ones

aka Jirocho Sangokushi 9: The Holy Mountain

15. I Am Waiting (1957)

91 min | Action, Crime

A former boxer gets involved with a club hostess trying to escape the clutches of her gangster employer.

Director: Koreyoshi Kurahara | Stars: Yûjirô Ishihara, Mie Kitahara, Isamu Kosugi, Kenjirô Uemura

Votes: 622

16. Underworld Beauty (1958)

87 min | Crime, Drama, Thriller

Released from prison, a gangster (Michitaro Mizushima) retrieves diamonds sought by fellow yakuza.

Director: Seijun Suzuki | Stars: Michitarô Mizushima, Mari Shiraki, Shinsuke Ashida, Tôru Abe

Votes: 422

17. Afraid to Die (1960)

Not Rated | 96 min | Action, Crime

Takeo is a young yakuza who renounces his former criminal activities after being released from prison. But sometimes escaping the past is not so easy.

Director: Yasuzô Masumura | Stars: Yukio Mishima, Ayako Wakao, Eiji Funakoshi, Takashi Shimura

Votes: 436

aka Afraid to Die

18. Yojimbo (1961)

Not Rated | 110 min | Action, Drama, Thriller

A crafty ronin comes to a town divided by two criminal gangs and decides to play them against each other to free the town.

Director: Akira Kurosawa | Stars: Toshirô Mifune, Eijirô Tôno, Tatsuya Nakadai, Yôko Tsukasa

Votes: 101,536

21. The Tale of Zatoichi (1962)

Not Rated | 95 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

The adventures of a blind, gambling masseur who also happens to be a master swordsman.

Director: Kenji Misumi | Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Masayo Banri, Ryûzô Shimada, Hajime Mitamura

Votes: 4,308

22. Teenage Yakuza (1962)

Not Rated | 72 min | Action, Crime

A high school vigilante protects his community from the extortions of mobsters from a neighboring city.

Director: Seijun Suzuki | Stars: Tamio Kawaji, Noriko Matsumoto, Keiko Sugiyama, Kayo Matsuo

Votes: 78

aka Teen Yakuza

23. Youth of the Beast (1963)

Not Rated | 92 min | Action, Crime, Mystery

A violent thug plays opposing yakuza bosses against each other.

Director: Seijun Suzuki | Stars: Jô Shishido, Misako Watanabe, Tamio Kawaji, Minako Katsuki

Votes: 2,760

24. Kanto Wanderer (1963)

92 min | Action, Crime

Three schoolgirls are infatuated with a yakuza, Katsuta, of the Izu Clan. They meet another yakuza, `Diamond` Fuyu, of the rival Yoshida clan. As he gets a tattoo, two of the girls become ... See full summary »

Director: Seijun Suzuki | Stars: Akira Kobayashi, Chieko Matsubara, Daisaburô Hirata, Hiroko Itô

Votes: 348

aka Kanto Wanderer

25. Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards! (1963)

Not Rated | 88 min | Action, Crime

Police detective Tajima, tasked with tracking down stolen firearms, turns an underworld grudge into a blood-bath. Suzuki transforms a colorful pot-boiler into an on-target send-up of cultural colonialism and post-war greed.

Director: Seijun Suzuki | Stars: Jô Shishido, Tamio Kawaji, Reiko Sassamori, Nobuo Kaneko

Votes: 585

aka Detective Bureau 23: Go to Hell, Bastards!

26. The Flowers and the Angry Waves (1964)

92 min | Action, Crime

Another subversion of audience expectations has Kobayashi acting somewhat cowardly in the snow-bound final showdown, an unheard-of trait in a ninkyô yakuza hero. Also with Tamio Kawaji as a sword-wielding assassin in Zero-cape-and -hat(!)

Director: Seijun Suzuki | Stars: Eimei Esumi, Chieko Misaki, Keisuke Noro, Yôko Yamamoto

Votes: 204

aka The Flower and the Angry Waves

27. Pale Flower (1964)

Not Rated | 96 min | Action, Crime

A gangster gets released from prison and has to cope with the recent shifts of power between the gangs, while taking care of a thrill-seeking young woman, who got in bad company while gambling.

Director: Masahiro Shinoda | Stars: Ryô Ikebe, Mariko Kaga, Takashi Fujiki, Naoki Sugiura

Votes: 2,669

28. Gate of Flesh (1964)

Not Rated | 90 min | Drama

An injured thief on the run finds sanctuary within a brothel of united, ruthless women.

Director: Seijun Suzuki | Stars: Jô Shishido, Kôji Wada, Yumiko Nogawa, Tomiko Ishii

Votes: 2,561

29. Cruel Gun Story (1964)

87 min | Action, Crime

A convict fresh out of prison, with a handicapped sister, is coerced by a wealthy mob boss into organizing an armored racetrack car heist.

Director: Takumi Furukawa | Stars: Jô Shishido, Chieko Matsubara, Tamio Kawaji, Yuji Kodaka

Votes: 664

30. Our Blood Will Not Forgive (I) (1964)

97 min | Action, Crime

Two brothers seek revenge on the yakuza for the death of their father.

Director: Seijun Suzuki | Stars: Akira Kobayashi, Hideki Takahashi, Chieko Matsubara, Chikako Hosokawa

Votes: 44

aka Our Blood Will Not Forgive

31. Ôkami to buta to ningen (1964)

95 min | Action, Crime, Drama

A lonely gangster tries recruiting men to plunder a respected and powerful gang.

Director: Kinji Fukasaku | Stars: Ken Takakura, Rentarô Mikuni, Kin'ya Kitaôji, Shinjirô Ebara

Votes: 107

32. Tattooed Life (1965)

87 min | Action, Crime

After his own gang sets him up to kill a rival mobster, a hit man is forced to flee with his younger brother.

Director: Seijun Suzuki | Stars: Hideki Takahashi, Masako Izumi, Hiroko Itô, Kayo Matsuo

Votes: 843

aka Tattooed Life

33. Brutal Tales of Chivalry (1965)

90 min | Action, Crime

After World War II, their town was a pile of rubble. Gennosuke, the second generation boss of the Kamizu Group was upholding yakuza chivalry by keeping black-market and illegal items out of... See full summary »

Director: Kiyoshi Saeki | Stars: Ken Takakura, Ryô Ikebe, Yoshiko Mita, Shinjirô Ebara

Votes: 133

aka Chivalrous Tales of the Shôwa Era

34. Abashiri Bangaichi (1965)

92 min | Crime, Drama

Shinichi is a good guy serving three years and approaching the end of his time. He escapes handcuffed to dangerous Gunda, who instigated the escape. Thus tethered, they start out on a journey across the desolate snow country of Hokkaido.

Director: Teruo Ishii | Stars: Ken Takakura, Kôji Nanbara, Tetsurô Tanba, Tôru Abe

Votes: 173

aka Abashiri Prison

35. Matatabi san ning yakuza (1965)

120 min | Action, Drama

This anthology tells three separate stories, all about yakuza (Japan's gangsters) in the feudal period. In the first, Sentaro, a roaming yakuza, seeks sanctuary with a gang which then asks ... See full summary »

Director: Tadashi Sawashima | Stars: Kinnosuke Nakamura, Tatsuya Nakadai, Hiroki Matsukata, Hiroko Sakuramachi

Votes: 20

aka Three Yakuza

36. Meiji kyokyakuden - sandaime shumei (1965)

90 min | Action, Crime

A tale set in the late Meiji era - circa 1880s-1890 as opposed to the early Meiji which began in the 1860s.

Director: Tai Katô | Stars: Kôji Tsuruta, Sumiko Fuji, Tetsurô Tanba, Tôru Abe

Votes: 66

38. Tokyo Drifter (1966)

Not Rated | 82 min | Action, Crime

After his gang disbands, a yakuza enforcer looks forward to life outside of organized crime but soon must become a drifter after his old rivals attempt to assassinate him.

Director: Seijun Suzuki | Stars: Tetsuya Watari, Chieko Matsubara, Hideaki Nitani, Tamio Kawaji

Votes: 6,795

aka Tokyo Drifter

39. Zatoichi's Pilgrimage (1966)

Not Rated | 82 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

Zatoichi's trek through 88 temples to atone for his violent past is interrupted as he stumbles into a village terrorized by a violent yakuza boss.

Director: Kazuo Ikehiro | Stars: Shintarô Katsu, Michiyo Yasuda, Kunie Tanaka, Hisashi Igawa

Votes: 762

40. Shôwa zankyô-den: Karajishi botan (1966)

89 min | Action, Crime

A yakuza has to to kill a guy out of obligation. When he gets out of prison, he visits his victim's grave where he meets his victim's son and wife while they do not know who he is. After that, he tries to make amends for his deed.

Director: Kiyoshi Saeki | Stars: Ken Takakura, Ryô Ikebe, Yoshiko Mita, Masahiko Tsugawa

Votes: 31

aka Brutal Tales of Chivalry 2: The Chinese Lion and Peony Tattoo

41. Showa zankyo-den: Ippiki okami (1966)

90 min | Action, Crime

Takei Shigejiro belongs to the Shimazu family. When his boss gets killed, he takes revenge and ends up in prison.

Director: Kiyoshi Saeki | Stars: Ken Takakura, Ryô Ikebe, Sumiko Fuji, Shôgo Shimada

Votes: 24

aka Brutal Tales of Chivalry 3: The Lone Wolf

43. Branded to Kill (1967)

Not Rated | 91 min | Action, Crime, Drama

After a badly done assignment, a hitman finds himself in conflict with his organisation, and one mysterious and dangerous fellow-hitman in particular.

Director: Seijun Suzuki | Stars: Jô Shishido, Mariko Ogawa, Annu Mari, Kôji Nanbara

Votes: 7,211

44. Kurenai no nagareboshi (1967)

97 min | Action, Crime

A young yakuza hitman named Goro does a job and needs to hideout away from Tokyo for a while. He hangs out with loose women and hard men and always manages to stay one step ahead of the law... See full summary »

Director: Toshio Masuda | Stars: Tetsuya Watari, Ruriko Asaoka, Jô Shishido, Kayo Matsuo

Votes: 118