Yakuza film

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Yakuza film (ヤクザ映画 yakuza eiga?) is a popular film genre in Japanese cinema which focuses on the lives and dealings of yakuza, also referred to as the Japanese Mafia.

Ninkyo eiga[edit]

Ninkyo eiga (仁侠映画?), or "chivalry films", were the first type of yakuza films. Most were produced by the Toei studio in the 1960s. The kimono-clad yakuza hero of the ninkyo films (personified by the stoic Ken Takakura) was always portrayed as an honorable outlaw torn between the contradictory values of giri (duty) and ninjo (personal feelings).

Jitsuroku eiga[edit]

In the 1970s, a new breed of yakuza eiga emerged, the jitsuroku series, or Docudrama. Many jitsuroku eiga were based on true stories, and filmed in a documentary style with Handy Movie Camera. This genre was popularized by Kinji Fukasaku's groundbreaking yakuza epic Battles Without Honor and Humanity. This film, which spawned four sequels, portrayed the post-War yakuza not as the honorable heirs to the samurai code, but as ruthless, treacherous street thugs. The films star Bunta Sugawara (often thought of as the anti-Ken Takakura) as a sneering ex-soldier who rises to power in the bombed-out Hiroshima underworld.

Recent developments[edit]

In the 1990s, yakuza movies in Japan declined. Now, many are low-budget direct-to-video movies called Gokudō. One exception has been the critically acclaimed films of Takeshi Kitano, whose existential yakuza movies are well known around the world.

Prominent actors[edit]

Selected films[edit]


  1. ^ "Film, TV actor Yamashiro dies at 70". Kyodo News (Japan Times). 2009-08-15. Retrieved 2009-08-23.