Film - Ryuzo and his Seven Henchmen

Ryuzo and his Seven Henchmen

Ryuzo and his Seven Henchmen from the Laugh category of the BFI London Film Festival is next up for Ren Zelen...

Director\Screenwriter Takeshi Kitano
Starring: Tatsuya Fuji, Ben Hiura, Kojun Ito


If you are familiar with Japanese movies you will already have heard of prolific actor\auteur Takeshi Kitano. He’s written and acted in scores of Japanese films including playing the role of the teacher in Battle Royale who takes the delinquent high-schoolers out onto the island to take part in the fatal competition (and if you’ve ever witnessed his TV gameshow Takeshi’s Castle you may feel that it’s not hugely different!)

Here however, he’s penned a droll comedy about a group of retired Yakuza who miss the excitement (and the income) of their erstwhile occupation. An embarrassment to their modern-minded Japanese progeny and considered dinosaurs in contemporary Japanese society, they remain legendary tough-guys in their own minds – even though they are failing physically and hardly sprightly.

When the aging but still tough Ryuzo is the victim of a phone scam by a young upstart criminal gang, and is subsequently thrown out of the house by his son for his bad behaviour, the old crooks decide to pool their resources, reform the gang and reclaim their territory from the young thugs.

As the feud escalates the ageing mobsters have to contend with their own physical and mental frailties and their dismay at their young adversaries’ lack of respect for them and for the appropriate code of criminal conduct.

It’s broad, farcical humour with a fun and frenetic climax. Takeshi Kitano himself cameos as a hard-nosed cop familiar with the old days of the Yakuza and nursing as much of a dislike of the young upstarts as the aged gangsters do themselves. His comedy is inspired by influences as diverse as the Seven Samurai and Weekend at Bernie’s.

Copyright R.H. Zelen – ©RenZelen 2015 All rights reserved.

Image - BFI.