Another sensationalist Yakuza movie from Kinji (Battle Royale) Fukasaku, Graveyard Of Honour charts the career of a Tokyo hoodlum in the 1940’s.
An interesting historical backdrop makes for a slightly different spin on the material, the streets ruled by rival gangs exploiting the poverty of everyday people using the resources of occupying GIs and warring with Japanese-hating prison camp internees. The synopsis makes the story sound like an Eastern version of The Godfather, but the treatment of the material is far more like an exploitation flick; namely the constant violence, bloodshed, sex and drug abuse. The result is that Tetsuya Watari’s character comes across as completely unsympathetic; he’s just a violent, self-centred thug and because the direction is far more interested in sensationalism than characterisation, you never feel you get to know the man or his motives. There are moments of brilliance, but a more restrained and subtle approach could’ve made for a far superior film.
More for fans of exploitation flicks than serious drama, but taken as such it is worth seeing.