Originally released in 1967 “Massacre Gun” is a forgotten classic in the Japanese yakuza film canon. The film languished in obscurity until its Blue-ray and DVD release earlier this month by Arrow Video.
The film follows Kuroda, a mob hitman, who has faithfully followed every order given to him by his boss. However, he finally turns on his employer after being forced to execute his lover in cold blood.
Kuroda knows his boss will eventually decide to come after him, so he makes the decision to attack and joins forces with his similarly wronged brothers.
His hot-headed brother, Eiji, is all but ready to take on the former employer, but his other brother, Saburô, an aspiring boxer tied to Kuroda’s boss as a protégé, is a bit more reluctant. However, Saburô helps once he decides he’s had enough, and his boss decides to break his hands for insubordination.
The trio starts attacking places where the mob conducts business, but eventually, they escalate their retaliation into an all-out turf war against the mob. This war eventually pits Kuroda against his longtime friend and former ally.
Along the way there are many deaths and great spaghetti western shootouts. The brothers show true compassion for one another and seek to right the wronged at any cost, even their own lives.
While the title may conjure up violent and gory images, this is a beautifully shot, black-and-white film that has no gore in it. There are a lot of shootouts with many killed. This film has no over the top violence that many modern day audiences are used to seeing.
The film is beautifully restored and while the plot isn’t overly involved, the performances are extremely engaging. It’s a film to watch till the end.
The final scene is extremely well-choreographed and an impressive suspense builder. It’s a wonder that this film was tucked away for such a long time.
Yakuza films can, at times, be over the top and lose themselves in intricate plots but “Massacre Gun” is fairly easy to follow, even with the subtitles, and comes to a satisfactory conclusion.
Even if you are not familiar with the yakuza films of the past this is a film that all fans of great action films, especially those with a wonderful lounge ’60s twist, will most certainly enjoy!