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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Retaliation aka "Shima wa moratta" [Blu-ray]


(Yasuharu Hasebe, 1968)




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: 1:35:00.569 

Disc Size: 35,517,016,957 bytes

Feature Size: 27,808,767,168 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.95 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 11th/12th, 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



Limited Edition Blu-ray (3000 copies only)
Brand new interview with star J Shishido (13:33)
Interview with renowned critic and historian Tony Rayns (31:26)
Original theatrical trailer (2:44)
Gallery featuring 16 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

Dual-Format with DVD included





Description: In 1969 future sexploitation specialist Yasuharu Hasebe (Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter) teamed up with the inimitable J Shishido (Tokyo Drifter, Branded to Kill) for a follow up to their yakuza hit Massacre Gun.

A tale of gang warfare that features a raft of the period s most iconic stars, Akira Kobayashi (Battles Without Honor and Humanity, The Flowers and the Angry Waves) is a yakuza lieutenant who emerges from jail to find his gang dispersed and his aging boss in his sickbed. Shishido is the rival waiting to kill him and a young Meiko Kaji (Lady Snowblood) is the girl caught in the crossfire.

Gritty and cynical, Retaliation is a hardboiled precursor to Kinji Fukasaku s revisionist yakuza pictures of the 1970s.



The Film:

Two years before they collaborated on the immortal Stray Cat Rock series, director Yasuharu Hasebe and soon-to-be-superstar Meiko Kaji teamed up for this potent gangster flick that also stars the great Joe Shishido (Branded to Kill) and Akira Kobayashi, who would shortly thereafter star in Kinji Fukasaku's epic yakuza series Battles Without Honor and Humanity. Emerging from a stint in prison, yakuza lieutenant Sumukawa (Kobayashi) discovers that his gang has disintegrated while he was in the pen. An ambitious type, he quickly hooks up with another gang (led by Shishido) who promise him a prominent position if he helps them deal with a rival family. But bonds are made to be broken, and pledges of loyalty soon give way to competition, betrayal and - naturally - retaliation. Tough, cynical and violent, Retaliation cheerfully overturns romanticized notions of underworld honour, paving the way for Fukusaku's revisionist yakuza pictures of the 1970s.

Excerpt from s3-us-west-1 located HERE


It was also directed by Yasuharu Hasebe, responsible for some of the best Nikkatsu action films of the 60s and 70s. Studly Akira Kobayashi is a Yakuza recently released from jail who discovers that his gang fell apart when its elderly godfather fell ill. He is recruited by a rival gang to help them usurp another vicious family from power in a small farming town; in return he will be put in charge of the area's gang division. Accompanying him on his mission is legendary Shishido Joe, who has vowed revenge for his brother's death in the gang fight that sent Kobayashi to prison. Meiko Kaji, shortly before she became a Pinky Violence idol, is the innocent farm girl Kobayashi falls in love with. Of course, this being a Yakuza movie, the plan goes wrong when it is revealed that Kobayashi was merely being used for the gang's villainous ends, and all hell breaks loose in a memorable blood-drenched finale! Immediately after seeing this, I wondered why it remains unavailable. The expected Yakuza violence loved by contemporary fans of this gritty genre is here in spades, and considering how many Nikkatsu films of this type have been released on DVD, what's the hold up with RETALIATION?

Excerpt from NYCMovieBoy Blog located HERE


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

Retaliation gets a dual-layered transfer with max'ed out bitrate to Blu-ray from Arrow Films. Chris Desjardins wrote in his book Outlaw Masters of Japanese Film that Retaliation's "staging is effective but occasionally it results in cluttered compositions that contribute to narrative confusion". I noted how unique the framing contained constant out-of-focus impediments in the foreground. It's clean and exceptionally thick and heavy showcasing some appreciated textures in the 1080P. It is soft-ish, which I deem authentic, and has few tight close-ups. This is the expected appearance of similar films from this gene and era. This Blu-ray probably looks a lot like the theatrical version of Retaliation. It seems devoid of imperfections - except those intended by, less-crisp, the filmmaking production style.


NOTE: As Michael Brooke reminded us about the 'sameness' of the US and UK editions like he did in Day of Anger - There are minor cosmetic differences on the disc labels and sleeve to do with differing copyright info and barcodes, and the US release doesn't have BBFC logos.


















Audio :

Arrow go linear PCM, in original Japanese mono at 1152 Kbps. Like the video it is fairly unconventional but without any major issues. This, again, I would bet that this would totally be in-line with the original production. Hajime Kaburagi's (Blind Woman's Curse, Fairy in a Cage, Tokyo Drifter) score keeps abreast of the abundant aggression. There are optional subtitles on the region FREE Blu-ray disc.


Extras :

Firstly, Arrow include a new, 1/2 hour, interview with renowned critic and historian Tony Rayns discussing Retaliation with enthusiasm. There is also a brand new, 1/4 hour, interview with star J Shishido (with English subtitles) recalling the production and his part. We get an original theatrical trailer and stills gallery featuring 16 rare promotional images. 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. This package is Dual-Format with, respective DVD included.



Fans of this genre will find Retaliation an interesting viewing. It's scattered narrative and correspondingly obtuse camera work make for a gritty, artistic crime drama - and not without some intense violence. It doesn't share the visual style of Seijun Suzuki, but it nonetheless carries it's own gravitas. The Arrow Blu-ray provides an authentic a/v presentation with appreciated supplements. Those keen shouldn't hesitate as it is limited to 3,000 copies. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

May 4th, 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.

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Gary W. Tooze






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