That’s right, period films, but about yakuza. I wasn’t sure if there was a particular term for it, so yeah, I guess I’ll stick with that.

Kunisada Chuji / 国定忠治 / Chuji the Gambler (1960)

Like Kozure Okami, minus the babycart machinegun?

Kunisada Chuji / 国定忠治 / Chuji the Gambler (1960)
Director: Taniguchi Senkichi
Cast: Mifune Toshirô , Katô Daisuke, Aratama Michiyo, Natsuki Yosuke, Fujita Susumu, Tôno Eijirô, Tanba Tetsurô

Summary:
Chuji the gambler comes home to find the village, and his family, deep in suffering because of corrupt official Jubei. Unable to take any more abuse, the villagers, along with Chuji, revolt against the magistrate to take back their village and get revenge for their suffering.

The Good Stuff:
– Mifune being Mifune, but there are times when he’s just too Mifune for the character
– The script is by Shindô Kaneto, and the score by Satô Masaru, so you know it’s not your average movie

The Best Stuff:
– Refuses to glorify the yakuza/gambler lifestyle and gives a very balanced portrayal of Chuji, often a do-no-wrong folkhero
– Many of the scenes are at night, adding to the film’s darker tone

Matatabi sannin yakuza / 股旅三人やくざ / Three Yakuza (1965)

Face size proportionate to fame? Maybe not but they sure neglected Matsukata

Matatabi sannin yakuza / 股旅三人やくざ / Three Yakuza (1965)
Director: Sawashima Tadashi
Cast: Nakadai Tatsuya, Matsukata Hiroki, Shimura Takashi, Nakamura Kinnosuke, Tanaka Kunie, Fuji Sumiko

Summary:
1 – Nakadai is Sentaro, a yakuza wanted for murder, who finds himself under the protection and employment of a local yakuza boss. He is tasked with protecting a young prostitute from being rescued by her lover. Sentaro’s kind heart and conscience, however, cause him to feel conflicted.
2 – Genta (Matsukata) and Bunzo (Shimura) meet outside a gambling den. Genta helps Bunzo escape after getting caught cheating at the tables. They eventually find themselves in a small house occupied by Omiyo (Fuji), where the past is revealed.
3 – Nakamura is Kaze-no-Kyutaro, a seemingly world-weary, badass yakuza, who is hired by a small village to protect them from an evil government official taxing the town into the ground. This yakuza, however, isn’t the kind of person he says he is.

The Good Stuff:
– Yakuza action!
– Nakamura is hilarious in this one, one of his least “cool” characters

The Best Stuff:
– Three yakuza stories, three great leading men
– Three different characters that could have had an entire movie made for them
– Probably Sawashima Tadashi’s best film?

Hitori okami / 一人狼 / Lone Wolf Isazo (1968)

Put a mask on Raizo and he almost looks like Batman 0_0

Hitori okami / 一人狼 / Lone Wolf Isazo (1968)
Director: Ikehiro Kazuo
Cast: Ichikawa Raizô, Ogawa Mayumi, Iwasaki Kaneko, Nagato Isamu

Summary:
Isazo is a famous yakuza man traveling around as usual (he even gets an intro song). One day he meets a boy whose mother is revealed to be Isazo’s old lover. His once carefree and guiltless life suddenly changes as he finally decides to right some wrongs and follow the Yakuza code.

The Good Stuff:
– Interesting yakuza > samurai message
– Isazo is a pretty down-to-earth Yakuza, surprisingly!

The Best Stuff:
– Hard to imagine anyone but Raizô playing this role
– Great heroic climax

Kogarashi Monjiro / 木枯し悶次郎 / The Withered Tree (1972)

That bottom-most picture... yeah I can't make sense of it either

Kogarashi Monjiro / 木枯し悶次郎 / The Withered Tree (1972)
Director: Nakajima Sadao
Cast: Sugawara Bunta, Ibuki Goro, Watase Tsunehiko, Yamamoto Rinichi, Koike Asao, Enani Kyoko, Sasazawa Saho

Summary:
Kogarashi Monjiro is framed for a crime he did not commit, and is sent into exile on a deserted island along with other criminals. He spends his days pining for revenge, until one day, a chance to escape arrives. He takes it, along with a few of his fellow criminals, and returns to the mainland. There is only one thing on his mind: revenge.

The Good Stuff:
– Kinda reminds me of Mikogami no Jokichi, but Sugawara Bunta is way more badass than Harada Yoshio
– The exiled part of the story could have been more interesting

The Best Stuff:
– I like Sugawara’s sword style–simple, believable, and effective
– Sugawara Bunta as a yakuza is awesome, and you should already be aware of this by now

Mushuku mono / 無宿者 / Drifting Crow (1964)

Disclaimer: Movie does not feature a nude beach (lower right)

Mushuku mono / 無宿者 / Drifting Crow (1964)
Director: Misumi Kenji
Cast: Ichikawa Raizô, Ishiyama Kenjiro, Abe Tôru, Taki Eiko, Tsubouchi Mikiko, Sawamura Sonosuke, Mizuhara Koichi, Taki Keiichi, Fujimaki Jun

Summary:
Ipponmatsu goes on a journey to find his father’s killer. On the way he meets Kuroki, a samurai on a similar journey to find his father who disappeared 5 years ago after escorting a caravan that was robbed of 4,000 ryo. Ipponmatsu suspects Kuroki’s father of being his own father’s killer, but now they must work together to reveal the plot behind boss Sanshu-ya, the mysterious Shima-ya, and the even more mysterious person behind them.

The Good Stuff:
– Good murder mystery and plot twist
– Misumi Kenji knows how to shoot action sequences (if you don’t know this already!), so you know this will be a treat

The Best Stuff:
– The relationship between Ipponmatsu and Kuroki is fairly complex and nuanced
– Fights in the village are awesome

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