Katsuura is like the Yakuza version of those terrible quadriplegic jokes
ignorant grade-schoolers tell. Yet, no matter what his condition might be,
leaving him angrier than you found him is probably a bad idea. Five years ago,
a rival severed all four limbs, but he keeps working in Hideo Sakaki’s Kiyamachi Daruma (trailer here), which screens
during the 2016 New York Asian Film Festival.
is a miserable bastard, especially if he meets you while collecting loan-shark
debts. Obviously, Katsuura is no longer a kneecap-breaker, but he can still be aggressively
hostile. Kenta Sakamoto, Katsuura’s long-suffering keeper, maliciously deposits
his charge with delinquent debtors, who then must deal with the nontraditional
gangster’s excretions and lecherous demands. If you think it sounds creepy,
just wait till you see him in limited action.
we are definitely talking about a slice of Japanese extremity here. However,
Sakaki and screenwriter Hiroyuki Maruno (adapting his own novel) still posit a
moral universe for these characters to inhabit. For reasons we eventually
learn, Sakamoto is particularly troubled by the practice of holding children
accountable for their parents’ debts. He also starts to suspect the current
boss, Furusawa, who inherited the Kiya town territory from Katsuura is holding
back information about the fateful incident.
is some tough stuff in Kiyamachi Daruma (Daruma
being a Japanese equivalent of an inflatable punching bag clown)—and frankly
Katsuura’s condition is least of it. The horrors and humiliations that befall
the Arai family are deeply troubling to witness, but at least they will set off
a wicked karmic chain of events.
Katsuura, Kenichi Endo truly puts the “f” and the “u” in furious. He is one bad
cat, literally on wheels. Clearly, it was a demanding performance on a physical
level, but he takes quiet, burning existential rage to new levels. He is
something else, but Masaki Miura and Yuichi Kimura give the film genuinely tragic
Shakespearean dimension as Sakamoto and Furusawa, respectively.
If you are unsure whether Kiyamachi is for you, then you should really think twice before
going. Had Takeshi Miike and the late Koji Wakamatsu ever collaborated on a
Yakuza film, it might have looked something like this (and if that comparison
does not mean anything to you, consider it a hint you should take). However, if
you want to be challenged by a film, Kiyamachi
will do it in edifying and evil ways. Recommended for hardcore fans of Yakuza and cult films, Kiyamachi Daruma
screens tomorrow (7/5) at the Walter Reade, as part of this year’s NYAFF.
Labels: Japanese Cinema, NYAFF '16, Yakuza films