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Violent Streets (Blu-ray Review)


The Film
The Video
The Audio
The Supplements


A retired yakuza gangster who spent eight-years in prison for his part in a recent gang war ends up caught in the middle of another impending gang war between his old gang and a new gang moving into their territory.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

The 1974 film Violent Streets (Bôryoku gai) is one of director Gosha Hideo’s early entries in Japan’s 1970s cycle of yakuza films. Incorporating elements of Japanese New Wave techniques and Toei’s “pinky violence” (softcore erotica) films, Gosha’s film nevertheless cuts its own violent, gritty path.

Egawa (Andô Noboru) is a retired yakuza from the Togiku clan who spent eight-years in prison after the last round of gang wars. As a thank you for his loyal service and actions, he is rewarded a flamenco nightclub in the Ginza district by the family boss Gohara. But soon the family wants the club back to use as an offering to a rival gang moving in on their turf. Egawa does not want to return it. Tension begins to rise between Egawa and the Togiku clan, fueled in part by the fact that, while he was in prison for those eight-years, Gohara married Egawa’s girlfriend. Egawa is now stuck in the middle of the warfare that is beginning between the Togiku and the rival yakuza from Osaka who want to move into Tokyo.

Violent Streets is brutal in its violence and misogyny, neither being unusual for this genre. There is one scene where, dealing with his alcoholic girlfriend Akiko (Kawamura Maki) accusing him of still being in love with his former girlfriend, Egawa slaps her very roughly. He then proceeds to rip her clothes off and fondle her exposed breasts aggressively. It is an intense and dizzying scene with a flamenco performance in the nightclub interspersed with the sexual violence being perpetrated by Egawa.

Gosha uses the violence and sex as accents in this film that is basically about shifting loyalties, lack of honor, and crime going horribly wrong. That Egawa still comes off as the sympathetic anti-hero shows how well Gosha crafts the film and Andô performs the role.

There is a central plot point concerning the kidnapping of a pop star that helps to spur on much of the action and eventual eruption of violence. Without saying much more, I’ll say that the scene with the exchange of ransom at a construction site is marvelously shot, exciting, and indicative of the overall high quality of Gosha’s yakuza film.

On a side note, lead actor Andô Noboru was a real-life yakuza boss who transitioned seamlessly from crime boss to actor.

  • Violent Streets (1974)
  • Violent Streets (1974)
  • Violent Streets (1974)
  • Violent Streets (1974)
  • Violent Streets Blu-ray (Film Movement)

The Video

Violent Streets arrives on Blu-ray from Film Movement taken from a 2K restoration from the original film elements. The film is framed at 2.35:1 and comes in an AVC 1080p encodement. This is a very grainy film, and that grain looks natural and free from noise. There is a lot of detail in the overall image even as some scenes look a little soft. The biggest issue I had with this transfer is that the gamma levels look maybe a notch too high. There are no really inky, obsidian blacks although this does result in a very extended amount of shadow detail.

The Audio

The original Japanese mono mix is included in LPCM 2.0. This is an acceptable mono track with a full sound to the sound effects and clear, intelligible dialogue.

The Supplements

The featurette and the booklet provide strong background on the film, filmmaker, and this genre on a whole.

  • Tattooed Director: Hideo Gosha (1080p; 00:19:41)
  • A Street That Can’t Be Beat (1080p; 00:08:44)
  • 16-page booklet featuring stills, credits, and a new essay on the film by Japanese film expert and Japanese film critic for The Japan Times Mark Schilling

The Final Assessment

This is a classic that deserves to be reexamined and Film Movement’s release does an excellent job of offering this up in a satisfying, high quality release for those purposes. This one will be enjoyed by fans of classic Japanese cinema. Highly recommended.  

Violent Streets is out on Blu-ray May 16, 2023, from Film Movement.

  • Rating Certificate: Not Rated
  • Studios & Distributors: Toei Tokyo | Film Movement
  • Director: Gosha Hideo
  • Written By: Gosha Hideo | Kakefuda Masahiro | Nakajima Nobuaki
  • Run Time: 96 Mins.
  • Street Date: 16 May 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: Japanese LPCM 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English

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A retired yakuza gangster who spent eight-years in prison for his part in a recent gang war ends up caught in the middle of another impending gang war between his old gang and a new gang moving into their territory. Violent Streets (Blu-ray Review)