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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

SYMPATHY FOR THE UNDERDOG (1971)

Mostly known within the "Yakuza" cult, writer/director Kinji Fukasaku (1930-2003) deserves to break into the mainstream. SYMPATHY has tremendous presence and cool detachment detailing the complicated final act of a just freed aging gangster. He finds his stomping ground taken over by a larger, more corporate gang so he and his old gang move to Okinawa for fresh turf to work on. After winning a few fierce battles, an old nemesis reappears for a fatal showdown. Fukasaku knew his Peckinpah, lots of WILD BUNCH in here, but he’s his own man with a pleasingly exaggerated swagger even though his action scenes work best in the tight confrontations. His stop-frames, chapter format, quickie flashback bios and lurching fits of erupting violence clearly influenced Tarantino and films like CITY OF GOD.

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