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The Yakuza Movie Book: A Guide to Japanese Gangster Films Paperback – June 1, 2003

4.0 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Yakuza films, with their "endless variations on the theme of revenge," have influenced American directors from Francis Ford Coppola to Quentin Tarantino. These Japanese gangster genre pics are a "great guilty pleasure," says Japan Times film reviewer Schilling, and though they had their "Golden Age" in the 1960s and 1970s, they're now enjoying renewed popularity in the West. Schilling has compiled profiles of and interviews with directors and actors, along with 100 reviews of yakuza movies, to present what the publisher calls the first book in English devoted entirely to this genre. Schilling charts yakuza's development, explains the origin of Japanese gangs, the various styles and qualities of the films, and the ways in which fans-in Japan and elsewhere-have responded to these movies. Each film review lists the director and cast members and offers a plot summary and Schilling's own critique; 60 black-and-white photos complement the text. It's a comprehensive package, sure to be of value to fans of yakuza and other gangster movies.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Through yakuza movies we can see Japanese society at its most fundamental level. This is an important and valuable book." --Tadao Sato, film critic and author of "Currents in Japanese Cinema" -- Review

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Stone Bridge Press (June 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1880656760
  • ISBN-13: 978-1880656761
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,116,815 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James Maruyama on September 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
A follow up to his previous work "Japanese Contemporary Movies", Mark Schilling has yet again come up with the most definitive cinema book devoted to Japanese cinema, this time focusing on the Yakuza and Japanese gangster film genre. This book not only gives a grand overview of the development of the Yakuza films over the years but also has numerous director and actor biographies and reviews to almost 123 films. Everything is covered from Seijun Suzuki's "Koroshi No Rakuin" (AKA Branded To Kill), to Kitano "Beat" Takeshi's "Sonatine" to Miike Takashi's "Koroshiya No Ichi" (AKA Ichi The Killer). Even films that are unknown outside of Japan such as "Abashiri Bangaichi" and "Yaju No Seishun" are reviewed. Unlike similar works where it is plainly obvious that the author knows next to little Japanese or has not even seen the films being reviewed, Schilling's background, experience, and command of the Japanese language is very much in evidence and appreciated. This is a must for any cinema fan and is essential reading for those interested in Japanese cinema. My only gripe is that Schilling does not reference any of Toei's similar "Sukeban" (Female Juvenile Boss) movies. It would have been interesting to hear his impressions on movies such as "Zubeko Bancho", "Sukeban Blues" and "Zero Ka No Onna: Akai No"(Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs).
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Format: Paperback
The book is a cultist dream and the info's on the genre is just terrific.However,I was dismayed that there was no review of the mind-blowing "Branded to Kill"by Seijun Suzuki.It's a film that challenged the conventional(thus having unfortunate circumstances for director's Suzuki's career)and haunting film-noir at it's best.I'm also disapointed that there was no interview from my personal favorite actor,Takekura Ken who embodies the genre at it's finest.But aside from this minor oversights,the book is a fast read and detailed at the same time.I am amazed on the author's knowledge of the genre and it was written with both affection and fascination on the subject.A dream book for cultist like me and one that will be read and browsed for many years to come."Domo arigato,Mark-san".
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Format: Paperback
This is a dangerous book. Not dangerous because it is filled with bad men (it is) doing bad things (they are), but dangerous because after you are done reading it, you will probably find yourself scouring the shelves of your local video store or hunting rabidly online for copies of these fantastic films that you will now desperately want to watch.

I have never been a huge fan of Yakuza movies, but after seeing Fukasaku Kinji's "Battles Without Honor or Humanity" and discovering Seijun Suzuki via the Criterion Collection, I became interested in seeing more of what the genre had to offer. "The Yakuza Movie Book" is exactly what I was looking for. Mark Shilling knows his movies, having been writing on Japanese cinema for just about every major publication for the last 20 years. On top of this, he has contacts in the industry that give him access to every major player, arranging in-depth interviews that simply cannot be matched.

Here he has interviewed or profiled pretty much everyone of note in the Yakuza genre. Grand Masters like Fukasaku Kinji and Seijun Suzuki along with the new wave fronted by Kitano "Beat" Takeshi and Miike Takashi give Shilling the past and future of Yakuza films, and how they have changed over the years. As well as directors, actors like Shishido Jo ("Tokyo Drifter"), Sugawara Bunta ("Battles Without Honor and Humanity"), the dangerous beauty Fuji Junko ("Hibotan Bakuto") and the classic Takakura Ken (Just about everything) contribute their side to the genre and its development.

The half of the book dedicated to the interviews and profiles is excellent. Well-written, totally informed, one comes out the other side with a passion for Yakuza films and a new understanding of the genre.
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