Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Proxy War

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Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Proxy War
Proxy War.jpg
Japanese release poster
Directed byKinji Fukasaku
Produced byGoro Kusakabe
Written byKazuo Kasahara
Koji Shundo (concept)
Kōichi Iiboshi (original story)
StarringBunta Sugawara
Akira Kobayashi
Takeshi Katō
Mikio Narita
Kunie Tanaka
Nobuo Kaneko
Narrated bySatoshi "Tetsu" Sakai
Music byToshiaki Tsushima
CinematographySadaji Yoshida
Edited byKozo Horiike
Distributed byToei Company
Release date
September 25, 1973
Running time
102 minutes

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, Uchimoto's 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 by 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 the dispute is resolved with Uchimoto the victor, another begins when Uchimoto finally 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.



Due to the success of the first film, Toei demanded that screenwriter Kazuo Kasahara finally write about the Hiroshima yakuza war depicted in Kōichi Iiboshi's articles, which are in-turn based on the journals of Kōzō Minō, and split it into two films. Kasahara had purposely avoided that part of the story for the first two installments, not only because he was daunted by all the names and relationships that were presented in a complex way, but also because he would have to write about the Yamaguchi-gumi and was concerned about the agreements he made to the people involved in the incidents.[1]

He felt that he could only write about the internal struggles (seen in Part 3) and the large battle (seen in Part 4), in which case the movie would not be very cinematic. He did not know how to convey all the subtle and hidden emotions of the characters onto the screen, and that even if he did it would not have enough action. Kasahara told Toei he could not guarantee the commercial success of such a movie, to which they responded that he had to because it was his job and that he had already received a large paycheck. Although he disagrees with that last part, Kasahara admitted to having borrowed money from the company to build his house and thus did what he was told.[1]

The writer flew to Hiroshima on April 2, 1973 to ask Minō and Takeshi Hattori, second president of the Kyosei-kai, the reasons for the war. He found that the two men each had opposite explanations, but because the films were based on Minō, Kasahara sided with him. Upon following the conflicts between the high ranking bosses and their complicated relationships, he had a nervous breakdown.[1]

Kasahara flew to Kure again on May 14 to ask Minō to speak frankly. The writer said that by now the ex-yakuza realized the films were just "silly plays" and truly gave him the facts. Upon learning them, Kasahara felt the whole thing even more complex and mysterious and decided to put everything into a "human comedy" whether it made sense or not. Through this trip he met Suzuyo, the mother of Masahiro Ōnishi who was the model for Wakasugi in the first film. She told him her son could finally rest in peace thanks to the movie. The writer then created the character Kuramoto and his mother thanks to this encounter. The name Kuramoto came from fellow screenwriter Sō Kuramoto.[1]

The assistant director, Toru Dobashi, said that a producer selected an actor to play Katsuharu Saijo. Fukasaku wanted to use Takuzo Kawatani for the role but did not want to argue with the producer. Therefore he shot the shipyard scene where the character is beat up using the producer's choice on-location, but without showing his face, while having Dobashi train Kawatani for the role in one week. Fukasaku returned with scrap iron and other background materials from the shoot and shot close-ups of Kawatani using a stand in for Sugawara. Dobashi also revealed that while filming the night scene where Tsunehiko Watase's arm gets stuck in a car door and is dragged along with it, the residents of Daiei complained. On the location's last day, Watase performed the stunt himself in a single take that was filmed on a 16 mm film Eyemo to be blown up to 35 mm film later. However, it was later discovered that the Eyemo had no film in it and the scene had to be shot over after pleading with the residents.[2]

After the second film, the anti-crime unit of the police in Hiroshima said they would not support on-location shooting. The production team for the third movie had a hard time filming in Etajima with the officials saying they "gave the wrong impression of Hiroshima by depicting violent incidents that never happened." Kasahara responded by stating that he did not write any fictional violent acts, all of them were real.[1]

The third screenplay took 91 days to write and to the surprise of Kasahara, it was the most successful at the time. The writer said he did not understand it as the film made no sense to him and was curious what the audience saw, before suggesting that it must have been Kinji Fukasaku's direction.[1]


Battles Without Honor and Humanity has been released on home video and aired on television, the latter with some scenes cut. In 1980, the first four films were edited into a 224-minute compilation and was given a limited theatrical release and broadcast on Toei's TV network. A Blu-ray box set compiling all five films in the series was released on March 21, 2013, to celebrate its 40th anniversary.[3]

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.[4] Arrow Films released a Blu-ray and DVD box set, limited to 2,500 copies, of all five films in the UK on December 7, 2015, and in the US a day later. Special features include an interview with the series fight choreographer Ryuzo Ueno and the 1980 edited compilation of the first four films.[5]


Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Proxy War was the thirteenth highest-grossing film of 1973.[6] On Kinema Junpo's annual list of the best films for the year as voted by critics, it ranked eighth.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Kasahara, Kazuo (2015) [1974]. "Jitsuroku: My Personal Account of the Screenplay – The 300 Days of Battles Without Honor and Humanity". Battles Without Honor and Humanity Dual Format Blu-ray & DVD. Translated by Akita, Sho. Arrow Films.
  2. ^ Fukasaku Family (Blu-ray). Kyoto: Arrow Films. April 2015.
  3. ^ "<初回生産限定>仁義なき戦い Blu‐ray BOX [Blu-ray]" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2014-08-22.
  4. ^ Erickson, Glenn (November 2004). "The Yakuza Papers: Battles Without Honor And Humanity: The Complete Box Set". DVD Talk. Archived from the original on 2007-09-08. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
  5. ^ "Battles Without Honour and Humanity (Arrow Video) Dual Format Blu-ray & DVD [Limited Edition]". Arrow Films. Retrieved 2015-11-01.
  6. ^ a b Schilling, Mark (2015). "Aftermath of Battles Without Honor and Humanity". Battles Without Honor and Humanity Dual Format Blu-ray & DVD. Arrow Films.

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