Thursday, February 25, 2010

In short: Tokyo Mafia 2 - Wrath of the Yakuza (1995)

When last we left our upstart non-yakuza hero Ginya Yabuki (Riki Takeuchi), he was forced to declare open war on the yakuza families making up the Teitokai.

Besides fire-bombing their offices, he decides that it's best to just let the yakuza's bosses be killed by professional killers he borrows from his triad friends. This plan works out rather nicely for him. Although there are some setbacks like a kidnapped girlfriend that leads to Ginya having to make use of his own paid police inspector, there seems to be no problem our hero cannot solve with a smirk and a phone call.

In the end, most of what has happened in this film and the film before turns out to have been orchestrated by the triads to drive all Japanese gangsters out of Kabukicho. And oh noes! They even have an agent among Yabuki's people.

In the end, Yabuki and his old friend Sho Saimon will join forces to punish the wicked by shouting excessively. And a bit of shooting too.

Since the first Tokyo Mafia film was all set-up for the inevitable yakuza war, I had hopes that its sequel would turn up the action and the madness a little. Alas, Wrath of the Yakuza is even more sedate than its prequel, without even the handful of awesomely stupid elements the earlier film had going for it.

Case in point is the whole "war" business. We are told that there are fire-bombings but don't even get to see the little footage the last film showed. The same goes for large parts of the assassinations or basically everything that could be entertaining to watch.

Instead there's lots and lots of talking and shouting by grim-faced men in mostly brownish and grey sets, which wouldn't be much of a problem if the characterization or the gangster politics were actually interesting or as complex as the film pretends they are. Too bad that they aren't.

It doesn't help the film that the racist claptrap about the evil Chinese and the heroic Japanese just doesn't work when we talk about people we never get to see doing a single decent thing, or that the eeeevil Chinese domination plans are all based on the yakuza being idiots who will fall for anything.

Not even Riki looks all that enthusiastic. Before the slightly entertaining finale, he's not even really chewing the scenery but limits himself to a bored looking smirk. It's a fitting look for the non-action going on around him, but probably not the facial expression someone whose girlfriend has just been snatched by his enemies should wear.

Certainly, the third Tokyo Mafia film will be better.


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