Kinji Fukasaku’s early-career yakuza masterpiece is just as gritty and angry as his later work. Wolves, Pigs and Men follows lone-wolf Jiro (Ken Takakura) as he plots with his girlfriend (Sanae Nakahara) to trick the delinquent gang of his younger brother Sabu (Kinya Kitaoji) to help them rip off a courier carrying mob money at the airport. Sabu’s crew returns to the hideout with the bag of yakuza cash and discovers just how much money is really involved. Reeling from the double cross and trying to hide the loot, the kids are caught by Jiro, imprisoned in a warehouse, and tortured. Meanwhile, Jiro and Sabu’s big brother (Rentaro Mikuni), a member of the rival gang that has been ripped off, has to find his siblings and recover the cash and his honor. Weighing cold hard yen against filial bonds, no holds are barred as the three brothers rip up the streets to Isao Tomita’s amazing jazz/surf-rock hybrid soundtrack. Shot on the real-life mean streets of Japan’s slums, Fukasaku’s blood-soaked yakuza debut mixes social criticism, American noir, French New Wave influences, and hard men with a penchant for violence.

Print Courtesy of the Japan Foundation.