Sunday 18 August 2013

Cruel Gun Story [1964]

Heist films, or even their armored car subsets, have been dime a dozen right from the days of film noirs; the template of a gang of criminals, planning a spectacular robbery as a means of escaping from their grimy existences, with predictably tragic consequences, is, therefore, anything but original. Yet, the associated existentialism, fatalism, inevitable double crosses, sheer bad luck, and loner tough guys fatally hoping for a final big hit, if done well, never fails to engage, and this taut, pessimistic and hard-boiled Nikkatsu Noir was clearly one. Directed by Takumi Furukawa, the films begins on a matter-of-fact note with chipmunk-faced Togawa (Jô Shishido), fresh out of prison, being asked to head the planned robbery of an armored car that is scheduled to carry 120 million yen from the race tracks. Though aware of the tremendous risks and pitfalls associated with such a venture, he takes up the job in order to get money for his sister’s surgery (played by Chieko Matsubara who, interestingly, was cast opposite Shishido in the excellent Nikkatsu Noir, A Colt is My Passport). His rickety team comprises of an old friend (Yuji Odaka) – the only person he trusts, a former boxer, and a dough-crazy drug addict with an over-inquisitive girlfriend; add to that a powerful yakuza boss planning to double-cross the team as soon as the deed is done, and his right-hand man who has plans of his own, and what you have is a ready-made plan for disaster for all involved. Filled with twists galore and dialogues drenched in sarcasm, and comprising of sparkling B/W photography, a wonderfully tense score and a bleakly ironic finale featuring another former compatriot who has turned straight (Tamio Kawaji), this is one bumpy but fun-filled ride.

Director: Takumi Furukawa
Genre: Thriller/Crime Thriller/Post-Noir/Heist Film
Language: Japanese
Country: Japan

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