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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Massacre Gun aka "Minagoroshi no kenjű" [Blu-ray]


(Yasuharu Hasebe, 1967)




Also available in the UK, on Blu-ray from Arrow, the day before:


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Nikkatsu

Video: Arrow Video



Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:29:01.794

Disc Size: 34,284,691,378 bytes

Feature Size: 26,048,702,016 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.94 Mbps

Chapters: 13

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: April 7th, 2015



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio Japanese 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit



English, none



Brand new interview with star J˘ Shishido (17:38)
Interview with renowned critic and historian Tony Rayns (36:26)
Original theatrical trailer (2:25)
Gallery featuring rare promotional images
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ian MacEwan
• Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp, newly illustrated by Ian MacEwan and featuring original archive stills





Description: Genre icon J˘ Shishido stars in this tense and violent yakuza yarn from genre stalwart and Seijun Suzuki's former assistant, Yasuharu Hasebe (Female Prisoner Scorpion: #701 s Grudge Song).

Shishido stars as Kuroda, a mob hitman who turns on his employers after being forced to execute his lover. Joining forces with his similarly wronged brothers, hot-headed Eiji (Tatsuya Fuji, In the Realm of the Senses) and aspiring boxer Sabur˘ (Jir˘ Okazaki, Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter), the trio escalate their mob retaliation to all-out turf war where no one will stop until one faction emerges victorious.

Strikingly violent for the period and gorgeously photographed in monochrome like genre siblings Branded to Kill and A Colt is My Passport (Shishido's other films from 1967), Massacre Gun is a bold iteration on the genre featuring some stunning compositions and the assured direction of Hasebe.



The Film:

Fine, jazzy, Japanese yakuza crime drama from 1967 and as cool as it gets. Starring, Jo Shishido (Branded to Kill and Youth of the Beast) Tatsuya Fuji (In the Realm of the Senses and Empire of Passion) and one of the first films directed by, Yasuhari Hasebe (Female Prisoner 701 Scorpion - Grudge Song and the Stray Cat series) who is considered the creator of the violent pink sub genre. Some pedigree then and not a disappointment, with non-stop action and surely more bullets than I've ever seen (or heard!) for it must have taken about 20 to 50 for each death. Performances are excellent all round, direction tight and confident with splendidly stylish photography. Low key jazz score helps maintain the atmosphere and this would be a great introduction to the world of Japanese 60s crime movies.

Excerpt from Chris Underwood at located HERE


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Massacre Gun gets a 1080P transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow Films in both the UK and North America.  It is dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate. I wouldn't say the black and white visuals are always crisp (there is a shade of waxiness) but there is some appealing texture and a few shots exports some depth. It is quite smooth in-motion and there is no noise in the darker sequences. The 1080P supports acceptable contrast with impressive use of the 2.35:1 frame.  It's clean and there are really no flaws with the rendering. This Blu-ray does as good a job as we are likely to see for this genre title.
















Audio :

Standard and authentic linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps. There is plenty of gunfire but it lacks the depth of modern films. Naozumi Yamamoto (Branded to Kill, Gate of Flesh and many of Yoji Yamada's Tora-San series) does the jazz score and it suits the heavy style of the visuals. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

Arrow add some supplements including a new, 18-minute, interview with star J˘ Shishido who recounts some of his 45-year career highlights including Massacre Gun. There is also a revealing, 36-minute, interview with renowned critic and historian Tony Rayns who goes right back to the origins of Nikkatsu, Kenji Mizoguchi and much more. There is an original theatrical trailer and gallery featuring rare promotional images and the package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ian MacEwan and a liner notes booklet featuring new writing on the film by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp, newly illustrated by Ian MacEwan and featuring original archive stills.



Infused with a large dose of 'style over substance' Massacre Gun isn't at the Suzuki-level of delirium but Kazue Nagatsuka's camera makes some impressive, overhead and behind shots and sequences. This is certainly brutal, with plenty of free-flowing violence.  The Arrow Blu-ray provides a decent presentation with some good supplements. Fans of this genre should find a ton here to appreciate. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

April 1st, 2015



Also available in the UK, on Blu-ray from Arrow, the day before:


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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