Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Proxy War
||This article consists almost entirely of a plot summary. It should be expanded to provide more balanced coverage that includes real-world context. (March 2013)|
|Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Proxy War|
North American DVD cover
|Directed by||Kinji Fukasaku|
|Written by||Kazuo Kasahara
Koji Shundo (concept)
Kōichi Iiboshi (original story)
|Narrated by||Tetsu Sakai|
|Music by||Toshiaki Tsushima|
|Distributed by||Toei Company|
|September 25, 1973|
Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Proxy War (Japanese: 仁義なき戦い 代理戦争 Hepburn: Jingi Naki Tatakai: Dairi Senso?) is a 1973 Japanese yakuza film directed by Kinji Fukasaku. It is the third film in a five-part series that Fukasaku made in a span of just two years.
In Hiroshima Prefecture September 1960, temporary leader of the Muraoka yakuza family Fumio Sugihara is assassinated while walking with Shozo Hirono and Muraoka member Noburo Uchimoto. At Sugihara's funeral, one of the guests vomits on Sugihara's remains and hastily leaves the ceremony. The others know that the man was beaten by Sugihara and probably vomited on purpose. Hirono and fellow Muraoka members Hiroshi Matsunaga and Akira Takeda ask Uchimoto, the sworn brother of the deceased, to take care of the man, but he cowardly refuses much to their anger.
Later, Shozo meets with his adviser Kanichi Okubo, a retired yakuza, who explains that Hirono has to switch parole guarantors with Okubo agreeing to Yoshio Yamamori, Hirono's former boss that he renounced loyalty from some years prior. Even after learning that Yamamori only suggested it because Boss Muraoka is resigning and Shozo has a close connection with his family, Shozo unwillingly rejoins the Yamamori family. Hirono, close friends with Shinichi Iwai of the large Akashi family in Kobe, is then asked by Uchimoto if he can find a member of the Akashi to become his sworn brother. This would strengthen Uchimoto's position as Muraoka's successor. Shozo also takes a young delinquent named Takeshi Kuramoto under his wing at the request of his old school teacher.
That summer, Soichi Eda is released from prison and he, Hirono, Uchimoto, Takeda, and Matsunaga all become sworn brothers. In June of the following year, thanks to Hirono, Uchimoto's request is approved and he becomes a sworn brother of Shigeo Aihara, who is a sworn brother of Akashi family boss Tetsuo Akashi. It is then explained that there is only one real threat to the Akashi's dominance in Japan; their Kobe rivals the Shinwa Group. The Akashis and the Shinwa, and their various alliances, are fighting all across Japan, causing many casualties, with Hiroshima becoming a flash point in the power struggle.
In a conversation with Hirono, Aihara is upset because Uchimoto is trying to swear loyalty to Boss Akashi while actually sworn to Boss Muraoka and doing so behind Aihara's back. Later that evening, Hirono learns from Matsunaga and Takeda that Muraoka will name Yamamori as the successor to the family. Hirono, surprised, says this is a terrible choice that everyone will regret. Boss Muraoka did so because he is upset with Uchimoto for swearing loyalty to Aihara, thinking that he sold Hiroshima to Kobe. They do note that Yamamori's leadership will be temporary. Uchimoto then walks in angry with Hirono because he told the truth about him to Aihara. As a result, his ceremony to become a sworn brother with Boss Akashi has been put off indefinitely.
Two months later in 1962, the Yamamori family absorbs the Muraoka family and is now led Boss Yamamori. Uchimoto is publicly humiliated at the after party by Yamamori, prompting him to break into tears. After everyone else leaves, Uchimoto begins to yell at Shozo, thinking he agreed to Yamamori as boss and kept the succession a secret from him. Uchimoto then threatens to destroy Yamamori and kill Hirono. Uchimoto decides to use his role as mediator in a conflict between the Hamazaki and Komori families from Iwakuni to begin a proxy war for control of the Yamamori family, which he believes is rightfully his position. Yamamori sides with Hamazaki because Masakichi Makihara is his sworn brother and announces they will fully support him, while Uchimoto clearly favors Komori despite his mediator role. After that dispute is resolved with Uchimoto the victor, another begins when Uchimoto does become a sworn brother to Boss Akashi and Yamamori aligns with the Shinwa Group. After Makihara's plan to kill Hirono fails and Hirono tricks his fellow family members into being forced to reconcile with Uchimoto, Hirono himself is tricked by Takeda and is expelled from the Yamamori family with Matsunaga subsequently resigning from the yakuza life refusing to go against Hirono. Due to Hirono's expulsion, the Akashi force Uchimoto to end his friendly terms with the Yamamori family members so they can aid Hirono. At the film's end, Hirono family member Kuramoto is killed while trying to assassinate Makihara and his cremation ceremony is shot up in an effort to kill Hirono.
Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Proxy War has been released on home video and aired on television, the latter with some scenes cut. A Blu-ray box set compiling all five films in the series was released on March 21, 2013 to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
All five films in the series were released on DVD in North America by Home Vision Entertainment in 2004, under the moniker The Yakuza Papers. A 6-disc DVD box set containing them all was also released. It includes a bonus disc containing interviews with director William Friedkin, discussing the influence of the films in America; subtitle translator Linda Hoaglund, discussing her work on the films; David Kaplan, Kenta Fukasaku, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, a Toei producer and a biographer among others.
- Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Proxy War at the Internet Movie Database
- Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Proxy War (Japanese) at the Japanese Movie Database