Home > Film, Reviews > Film Review: Ryūzō And The Seven Henchmen (Ryūzō to Shichinin no Kobuntachi)

Film Review: Ryūzō And The Seven Henchmen (Ryūzō to Shichinin no Kobuntachi)

A fast paced and quick witted comedy!

Ryuzo_7_Japanese_Theatrical_Release_Poster 2Produced by Office Kitano and released in Japan on 25th April 2015 the film stars the 74 year old Tatsuya Fuji as Ryūzō, whose performance is the mainstay of the film’s success, and is directed by the critically acclaimed Beat Takeshi (aka Takeshi Kitano). The film is a delightful and, in places, very funny romp into the twilight existence of a group of Yakuza headed up by the short tempered and hilariously barb witted Ryūzō who are stoically enduring their boring retirement, at least until they encounter a younger group of up and coming toughs going by the gang name of Keihin Rengo (subtitled as Keihin United).

Ben Yasuda as Keihin Rengo boss Nishi

Ben Yasuda as Keihin Rengo boss Nishi

Ryūzō and his former colleague Masa (Masaomi Kondō) have kept in touch and spend their days reminiscing about both their previous escapades and their other erstwhile colleagues while they bully the locals. Ryūzō’s behaviour exasperates his son Ryuhei (Masanobu Katsumura) who has a career as a salaryman. Then out of the blue Ryūzō finds himself on the receiving end of a Keihin Rengo scam, with a phone call from someone purporting to be his son, which is intended to lighten him of ¥5 million but he sees through the charade and is informed about the Keihin Rengo gang by police detective Murakami (Beat Takeshi).

Left to right – Akira Nakao as Mokichi, Tatsuya Fuji as Ryūzō, Masaomi Kondō as Masa, Beat Takeshi as Police Detective Murakami

Left to right – Akira Nakao as Mokichi, Tatsuya Fuji as Ryūzō, Masaomi Kondō as Masa, Beat Takeshi as Police Detective Murakami

Taking matters into their own hands Ryūzō and Masa make contact and reunite with their former Yakuza colleagues as a gang called ‘Dragon One League’ to teach the younger Keihin Rengo gang a lesson. Each of the retired Yakuza have special skills such as the Toilet Assassin Mokichi (Akira Nakao) which are revealed in a touch of genius through fifties style black and white film action flash backs which also act as a reminder of Beat Takeshi’s directing genius.

Ryūzō’s dialogue is fast and furious and though it’s likely that there are some Japanese cultural references in the movie which are unlikely to be picked up and understood by non-Japanese viewers there is enough very good subtitle translation to make for very entertaining viewing.

Left to right – Kōjūn Ito as Hide, Tōru Shinagawa as Makku, and Ben Hiura as Ichizō

Left to right – Kōjūn Ito as Hide, Tōru Shinagawa as Makku, and Ben Hiura as Ichizō

Don’t expect the standard violent Yakuza film which this is not. Rather it’s a fast paced and quick witted comedy which occasionally descends into Benny Hill style farce. One criticism might be that towards the end the film seems to find itself grasping for a critical denouement which it doesn’t seem to be able to find and ends with a bit of a whimper rather than a bang. However, that being said, prepare to laugh out loud and if you thought you knew about Yakuza think again!

Distributed by Celluloid Dreams the film was included in the 2015 BFI London Film Festival.

Available (with English subtitles) from Amazon Japan at ¥3,036 (about £17) plus postage and packing – use search text: 龍三と七人の子分たち

Available from Amazon UK (with English subtitles) at £33.81 plus postage and packing – use search text: Ryūzō and The Seven Henchmen

Official website: http://ryuzo7.jp/

YouTube preview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=4&v=zp2QeLGqtWs

Celluloid Dreams: http://www.celluloid-dreams.com/hello/latest_news/

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