U.K. cult film lovers have been enjoying the spoils of Arrow Video for many years now. Known for their killer artwork, beautiful remasters and numerous special features, they have fast become the cream of the crop. I’m so happy that they have decided to branch out and attack the U.S. market. It is Arrow that I can thank for this rock solid release of a rare Japanese gangster treat.
Massacre Gun is about a high ranking gangster who is loyal to his boss to a fault. In the first five minutes he’s ordered to kill his girlfriend by his boss and does so immediately. His younger brother finds out and decides to tell his brother’s boss to shove it. See the boss was sponsoring the little brother who was being groomed for boxing greatness. The boss lets him go but not before he breaks the boxer brother’s hands. Thus begins a war between the brothers and the boss.
Fast paced and lean, Massacre Gun trims all the fat giving the film a propulsive vibe set to jazz music. Shot in beautiful black and white, the film captures the vibe of late cycle noir films mixed with American gangster movies. This is no yakuza movie. There are no battles for honor or finger cutting, no full back tattoos or sepuku. The film is highly influenced stylistically by Americanism, from the western score to the western clothes and our main characters bucking the system to strike out on their own. One scene takes place at a bowling alley, and others take place at a jazz club. The characters have a thin moral code that they decide and are not dictated by centuries old tradition. This is a truly rebellious film or at least a very American film which explains why it was so easy to watch. It was engaged in the action and the characters and there’s never a moment where the film feels dated. It all feels very current and very hip. It’s like the japanese version of Parker book by Richard Stark. It gets to the point, doesn’t jerk you around, and gives you what you came for. The film itself feels like the embodiment of a tough guy.
If you enjoy Japanese gangster cinema or tough guy cinema in general, you’ll dig Massacre Gun. What it lacks in depth it makes up for in immediacy.