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  • The Yakuza Papers: Battles Without Honor & Humanity (Complete Boxed Set)
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The Yakuza Papers: Battles Without Honor & Humanity (Complete Boxed Set)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Bunta Sugawara, Hiroki Matsukata, Kunie Tanaka, Eiko Nakamura, Tsunehiko Watase
  • Directors: Kinji Fukasaku
  • Writers: Kazuo Kasahara, Koichi Iiboshi
  • Format: Anamorphic, Box set, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled
  • Language: Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Homevision
  • DVD Release Date: December 14, 2004
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0002V7O1A
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #292,424 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Yakuza Papers: Battles Without Honor & Humanity (Complete Boxed Set)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Packaged in limited edition metal case
  • Bonus Supplemental Disc (only available with Boxed Set) includes:
  • Friedkin on Fukasaku Director William Friedkin on Fukasaku and The Yakuza Papers
  • Translating Fukasaku, an interview with subtitler Linda Hoaglund
  • Kantoku: Remembering Fukasaku, A 20-minute group discussion
  • Jitsuroku: Reinventing the Yakuza Genre, a 30-minute video essay
  • Boryoku: Fukasaku and the Art of Violence, features interviews and rare archival footage
  • Yakuza Papers Family Tree: A comprehensive story guide

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In the wake of the Bomb, ex-soldier Shozo Hirono [Bunta Sugawara] joins a Hiroshima yakuza gang, the Japanese equivalent of the Mafia–and then the shootings, slashings, betrayals, and scheming begin. Premiering a year after The Godfather, The Yakuza Papers also broke box office records and spawned sequels, but, in contrast, took a ruthlessly de-romanticized view of the underworld. Based on an actual gang boss's memoirs, The Yakuza Papers plunges the audience into a gritty, brutal, violent newsreel of a three-decade struggle for power of Shakespearean complexity, a nihilistic epic unlike any other.


While The Godfather romanticized the American Mafia in the early 1970s, Kinji Fukasaku's five-film series known as The Yakuza Papers: Battles Without Honor & Humanity revolutionized the Japanese yakuza film with unprecedented intensity. A post-World War II epic that broke Japanese box-office records, this complex, utterly authentic cycle of gangster films replaced the popular ninkyo or "chivalry" films of the '60s with jitsuroku, an entirely new breed of gangster film that rose from the ashes of Hiroshima and post-war reconstruction, depicting a meticulously detailed "alternate history" (as Japanese film expert Tom Mes observes in the accompanying booklet) that had been ignored by the "official" factual record. Beginning with 1973's Battles Without Honor and Humanity and continuing through four hugely popular sequels, these are bracingly intricate studies in shifting loyalties and gangland chaos, tracking the yakuza career of Shozu Hirono (played by charismatic star Bunta Suguwara), who rises from lowly soldier status in 1946 to "sworn brotherhood" and respected retirement in 1970. Across this quarter-century of death, power, and betrayal, Fukasaku orchestrates nearly 50 characters in four major cities, all vying for dominance in a familial structure so complex that a helpful flow-chart is provided to follow the shifting balance of power.

Western viewers may struggle with the social context of these films, but as a gangster epic of escalating scope and power, The Yakuza Papers offers a universally energizing DVD experience. Fukasaku (who died in January 2003 while filming his 62nd film, Battle Royale II) was a master of cinematic pulp, and these films represent the pinnacle of his frenetic, deliberately chaotic hand-held camera style, which strongly influenced American urban crime films of the '70s (as French Connection director William Friedkin notes on the feature-packed supplement disc). Rough-edged and thematically rich, the five films presented here--all in pristine digital transfers and brilliantly translated by ace subtitler Linda Hoaglund--combine to form a sprawling milestone of Japanese cinema. Home Vision's packaging and comprehensive supplements pay honorable tribute to Fukasaku's achievement, with bonus features that provide all the necessary background needed to fully appreciate The Yakuza Papers as a raw, ambitious masterpiece that fully deserves its widespread acclaim. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 17 customer reviews
The films were revolutionary because they were some of the first to depict the yakuza lifestyle as one without honor, as the title reveals.
As a Toei studio director, Kinji Fukasaku made a wide variety of films, everything from period swordplay epics, to lurid romances and science-fiction horror.
Keris Nine
They have never before been released in America; the transfer and subtitles are excellent and the special features disk has some interesting documentaries.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Flipper Campbell VINE VOICE on December 30, 2004
Format: DVD
"The Yakuza Papers" consists of five sequential films made in the 1970s and only now making their U.S. debut, in this killer six-DVD set from Home Vision. Comparisons to the first two "Godfathers" seem inevitable, but "Yakuza" is a singular film experience -- deeply rewarding for those with the stomach for its kinetic violence; overwhelming in scope and complexity.

The set thoughtfully provides a printed chart that helps viewers track the Japanese crime families that do battle over the quarter-century covered in the series. They'll need it. "Yakuza" rarely pauses to allow for reflection -- this is a dizzying eight-hour hell-ride through a time and place as foreign as they come.

William Friedkin, whose talking-head interview kicks off the extras disc, calls director Kinji Fukasaku "a master," comparing "Yakuza Papers" to James Joyce's "Ulysses." No doubt a contemporary influence on the frantic hand-held camerawork was Friedkin's own "The French Connection," which the U.S. director says "very easy could have been done by Fukasaku."

Fukasaku looked past the stars of romanticized old-school yakuza films to find his lead, Bunta Sugawara, with whom he had just worked on "Street Mobster" (also out via Home Vision). No one in "Yakuza" gets off easy, but Sugawara's existential Hirono character comes closest to a traditional hero as he makes his way from the streets to the top of the underworld. More typical is weepy crime boss Yamamori (Nobuo Kaneko), a cross between Don Corleone and Floyd the barber.

Home Vision, which has busied itself importing gritty yakuza films, gives Fukasaku's epic first-class treatment, starting with a metal container and an artful fold-out for the discs.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Cubist on December 23, 2004
Format: DVD
Kinji Fukasaku's series of films known as The Yakuza Papers is largely seen as the veteran filmmaker's answer to The Godfather. Grouped together, these five films are a towering achievement of visceral B-moviemaking at its finest. The very first image over the opening credits of Battles Without Honor and Humanity is that of a mushroom cloud. The dropping of two atomic bombs would forever change and shape Japan's history. It is an event that shaped and changed Fukasaku's life. It also informed many of his movies.

In a nice touch, a booklet is included that maps out the various clans, their significant members and their relation to each other over the course of all five films. This is extremely helpful to neophytes who have trouble remembering who's who and what happened when.

The bonus disc starts off with "Friedkin on Fukasaku," an interview with the legendary director who talks about meeting Fukasaku. He recounts his impressions of the man and how his style of filmmaking differed from the masters of classic Japanese cinema (Ozu, Kurosawa, et al).

"Jitsuroku: Reinventing a Genre" examines this sub-genre of Yakuza films in which the events are based on true stories or historical record.

"Boryoku: Fukasaku and the Art of Violence" is an examination of how violence is depicted in his movies. There is interview footage with the man himself as he talks about expressing the violent and restless tendencies that came out of the postwar period.

"Kantoku: Remembering the Director" features Fukasaku's son and two of his collaborators talking about what it was like to work with him.

David Kaplan, co-author of Yakuza: Japan's Criminal Underworld, talks about the history and evolution of the Yakuza on the "Kaplan on the Yakuza" featurette.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By ZombieTongue on February 2, 2005
Format: DVD
This series is without a doubt the most important series of yakuza films ever to be made. Not only are the films socially important, but they are also masterpieces in filmmaking.

The series has an intriguing story which continues through all five films. Each film tells different parts of the same story, in chronological order, and for this reason I cannot help but consider the series to be one film, broken into five parts. The films were revolutionary because they were some of the first to depict the yakuza lifestyle as one without honor, as the title reveals. Films such as Pale Flower showed the emptiness of the yakuza lifestyle, but no film was as commanding as the Battles Without Honor series, which not only showed the emptiness, but also the brutality, destruction, and tragedy of the yakuza lifestyle. The message of the film is very in-your-face, because at the time almost every film glorified the gangster life and heroic bloodshed. In addition, the production quality of the series is very high and each film is very professionally made, with the filmmakers truly showing care and respect for their work. Each film provides a testament to the power of good storytelling and good filmmaking. This series is not just for yakuza fans, but for fans of all Japanese cinema, as well as fans of cinema in general. Though the series may portray a great gangster tale, they are also great films and the viewer need not be a fan of the genre.

This is yet again a wonderful presentation on the part of Home Vision Entertainment. The picture quality has really been cleaned up and the transfer is excellent. Another extremely important aspect of this release is that the subtitles have been newly translated, making the films much easier to understand than other versions.
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