1974 · Japan · Directed by Kinji Fukasaku
The Final Episode of the Battles Without Honour and Humanity series brought a new, more contemporary mood to the film and its characters. The yakuza may be starting to resemble a legitimate business, but director Kinji Fukasaku, working with new screenwriter Kôji Takada, never lets the audience forget their violent origins, and their tried-and-true methods of accomplishing their business. 1966. After a police crackdown, the gangs of Hiroshima and Kure have formed a massive, multi-family political and economic alliance called the Tensei Coalition, seeking a way forward into the 1970’s as part of Japan’s economic bubble. Shôzô Hirono (Bunta Sugawara) finds himself increasingly alienated from this semi-legitimate form of corruption, particularly as acting Tensei Coalition chairman Matsumura (Kinya Kitaôji) tries to put the gangs on a new, more business-like path. But old habits die hard, and when rivalries surface once again, they bring with them the promise of more bloodshed. The long-awaited conclusion to the epic series is an elegy for the bad guy, with the harsh realisation that Japan’s economic growth came about only through the sacrifice of the blood of its young men, victims of twenty long years of Battles Without Honour and Humanity.