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The Wolves (1971)

Kyoko Enami , Hisashi Igawa , Hideo Gosha  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Kyoko Enami, Hisashi Igawa, Komaki Kurihara, Tatsuya Nakadai, Isao Natsuyagi
  • Directors: Hideo Gosha
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Animeigo
  • DVD Release Date: September 2, 2008
  • Run Time: 131 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001B1875C
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #303,923 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

At the dawn of the Showa Era, the new Emperor has granted amnesty to almost 400 prisoners. One of those men, Seiji (Nakadai), formally a henchmen for one of Japan's toughest gangs, must now cope with the fact that his former boss is dead and the power shift has created new conspiracies.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two houses September 3, 2008
Format:DVD
This is an intensely cool movie. A dark and brutal power struggle between two rival gangsters, this is no slick action fest but more of a Shakespearean slow decimation of power. It is, quite simply, one of the best yakuza flicks I have every seen.

Directed by Gosha Hideo (Sword of the Beast, Three Outlaw Samurai), the movie trudges through the underworld of Japan's gangster society, the yakuza. Unlike many Japanese genre films, this one starts with a quick bang and then switches gears to a more personal battle. Filmed two years before the seminal yakuza epic Battles Without Honor & Humanity, you can see some of the groundwork being laid here for the film that would transform the genre forever. Although "The Wolves" is not nearly as groundbreaking as some that would follow it, it is genre done to absolute perfection.

"The Wolves" ("Shussho Iwai" or "Prison Release Celebration") is set at the dawn of the Showa Era, when the new Emperor granted amnesty to over 400 prisoners in celebration of his ascension. One of these men is Iwahashi Seji, played by master actor Nakadai Tatsuya (Harakiri, Ran, Yojimbo). Iwahashi must deal with the fact that his former master is now dead, and the power structure has swung in balance to a rival ganglord.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Some critics recently have said that Hideo Gosha's samurai movies are to Kurosawa's samurai movies what Bud Boetticher's westerns are to John Ford's westerns. Maybe all that means is that Ford at the top of his game made some great movies that happened to be westerns while Boetticher at the top of his game made some first-class westerns. Shussho Iwai (The Wolves) is as well-crafted a sword-slasher as you'll hope to see, full of angst, conflict, sex and blood, with just enough artiness -- lovemaking reflected in rainwater, two silent, unexpected knife killers, a puppy on the beach, the plaintive plucking of a lonely samisen -- to keep the auteur-lovers happy. The film is an accomplished tale of tricky betrayal and fate that moves briskly along. For those who think they'll find a few flakes of gold among the pyrite, they won't be disappointed.

The Kan'non-gumi and Enoki-ya are competing yakuza gangs in northern Honshu. Four years ago Seji Iwahashi (Tatsuya Nakadai) and several others were imprisoned when they took part in a bloody fight between the gangs over control of a railway being built. While he was in prison his old gang leader died. He would have been named boss, but in his absence another was chosen. They were pledged "brothers." In an amnesty at the beginning of the Showa era, he and the others have been pardoned. He rejoins his gang, makes no fuss about who is boss...and discovers that not only have the two gangs joined in an alliance, but that the young daughter of the old Enoki-ya gang leader who a good friend loves and who also was released but seems to have disappeared is just about to marry the co-gang leader from Kan'non-gumi and that, yes, his "brother," the new gang leader for Enoki-ya, is the other co-gang leader for the alliance. That's not all.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not bad for Yakuza Fans January 5, 2009
Format:DVD
Not going to go into the synopsis of the movie, as the other reviewers have covered that quite well, but I must say I was rather pleased with this movie despite the lack of reviews all over the internet. Nothing new in terms of making cinematic history but Gosha does a fantastic job in illustrating the cause and effect of the yakuza code of honor, respect, & loyalty. Shot on the Shimokita peninsula, Gosha captures some beautiful scenery while at the same time illustrating a rather dark tone to the film. You hardly get a sense of a potential "happy ending" despite some promising moments. The characters are defined well enough in that you know which ones will clearly fall due to either their greed, stubbornness,pride, thirst for revenge, or trying to maintain the yakuza code. The fighting is simple but to the point. There is a good sense of realism to them which I can appreciate versus those horrible HK type frame cuts(I know, not a fair comparison but you what I mean). For those that may feel the pacing is slow in some parts, I think the final scene(s) make up for it.

Spoilers/questions ahead:

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Can anybody explain why the 2 female assasins killed a woman referred to as Aki? Also, why didn't Iwahashi kill the character played by Tetsuro Tanba?
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END SPOILERS

Fans of the Yakuza genre should pick this up. I think you will be pleased with it overall. Great presentation by Animeigo.
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