With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Friday, July 03, 2015

Remembering Kinji Fukasaku; three of his films playing at NYAFF

Battles Without Honor and Humanity

Japanese director Kinji Fukasaku was born in Mito, Japan on July 3, 1930, making today the 85th anniversary of his birth. He died on January 12, 2003 while making Battle Royale II, the sequel to the terrific 2000 original. Battle Royale II was completed by his son Kenta Fukasaku.

Fukasaku directed over sixty films, including Black Lizard (1968) and Black Rose (1969), both of which starred transvestite singer and actress Akihiro Miwa (a.k.a. Akihiro Matuyama). He, along with Toshio Masuda, took over directing the Japanese sequences of Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) after Akira Kurosawa left, or was fired from, the production.

But Fukasaku is most certainly best known and remembered for his numerous and innovative yakuza films which did away with any romantic notions of such gangsters having a lofty code of honor. The five film series Battles Without Honor and Humanity (1973-1974, also known as The Yakuza Papers) ranks at the top of a list that includes Street Mobster (1972) and Graveyard of Honor (1975).

Cops Vs. Thugs

In what most surely is no coincidence, two Fukasaku films will be screened at the New York Asian Film Festival today, Friday, July 3rd, the anniversary of his birthday. Battles Without Honor and Humanity (1973) will be shown at 7:00pm and Cops Vs. Thugs (1975) at 9:00pm.

Wolves, Pigs and Men

A third Fukasaku film, Wolves, Pigs and Men (1964), will be shown Wednesday, July 8 at 5:30pm.

These three films are part of the NYAFF special focus section The Last Men of Japanese Film, which features a total of six films starring Japanese film legends Ken Takakura and Bunta Sugawara. All films will be shown at the Walter Reade Theater.

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