Film #98: YOUNG YAKUZA
3 out of 5 stars
An unprecedented documentary in that French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Limosin was allowed to spend 18 months with the Kumagai clan. An agreement between the filmmaker and the Yakuza boss was struck so that no violence or particulars of “the business” would be shown and it works for about half the film’s run time. We see these gangsters more focused on the bureaucratic side of things rather than gunplay and fisticuffs. Then, to everyone’s surprise, the main focus of the film, a young man named Naoki disappears and throws the narrative into a bit of a tale-spin. The story is still an interesting one, but it makes the film seem a bit schizophrenic. Plot lines diverge with some being realized and others dying on the vine. Throughout the film though, it’s important to remember that thesemen - who come off for the most part as gentlemen and benevolent “uncles” - remain hardened criminals. In a way, YOUNG YAKUZA puts a human face on the Japanese Mafia. Sort of… The film is far from perfect, but it’s still fascinating and takes the viewer into places they NEVER would go - or be allowed to go - otherwise.