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Battles Without Honor and Humanity [Limited Edition] [Blu-ray & DVD]

 

Battles Without Honor and Humanity (1973)           Hiroshima Death Match (1973)           Proxy War (1973)

Police Tactics (1974)          
Final Episode (1974)          The Complete Saga (1980)

 

 

Kinji Fukasaku (Battle Royale) gave the world Japan's answer to The Godfather with this violent yakuza saga, influencing filmmakers from Quentin Tarantino to Takashi Miike. Made within just two years, the five-film series brought a new kind of realism and ferocity to the crime genre in Japan, revitalizing the industry and leading to unprecedented commercial and critical success.

Fukasaku and his team broke with the longstanding studio tradition of casting marquee idols as honorable, kimono-clad heroes, defending their gang bosses against unscrupulous villains, and instead adapted true accounts torn from the headlines, shot in a documentary-like style, and with few clear-cut heroes or villains. The vibrancy and dynamism of the filmmaking, plus its shocking violence, Shakespearean plotlines, and wide tapestry of characters, launched a revolutionary new genre, establishing the series as one of the great masterpieces of world crime cinema.

***

In the wake of the Bomb, ex-soldier Shozo Hirono [Bunta Sugawara] joins a Hiroshima yakuza gang, the Japanese equivalent of the Mafia–and then the shootings, slashings, betrayals, and scheming begin. Premiering a year after The Godfather, The Yakuza Papers [aka Battles Without Honor and Humanity] also broke box office records and spawned sequels, but, in contrast, took a ruthlessly de-romanticized view of the underworld. Based on an actual gang boss's memoirs, The Yakuza Papers plunges the audience into a gritty, brutal, violent newsreel of a three-decade struggle for power of Shakespearean complexity, a nihilistic epic unlike any other.

From Amazon about the, OOP, Home Vision DVD package:

Without Honor and Humanity and continuing through four hugely popular sequels, these are bracingly intricate studies in shifting loyalties and gangland chaos, tracking the yakuza career of Shozu Hirono (played by charismatic star Bunta Suguwara), who rises from lowly soldier status in 1946 to "sworn brotherhood" and respected retirement in 1970. Across this quarter-century of death, power, and betrayal, Fukasaku orchestrates nearly 50 characters in four major cities, all vying for dominance in a familial structure so complex that a helpful flow-chart is provided to follow the shifting balance of power.

Western viewers may struggle with the social context of these films, but as a gangster epic of escalating scope and power, The Yakuza Papers [aka Battles Without Honor and Humanity] offers a universally energizing DVD experience. Fukasaku (who died in January 2003 while filming his 62nd film, Battle Royale II) was a master of cinematic pulp, and these films represent the pinnacle of his frenetic, deliberately chaotic hand-held camera style, which strongly influenced American urban crime films of the '70s (as French Connection director William Friedkin notes on the feature-packed supplement disc). Rough-edged and thematically rich, the five films presented here--all in pristine digital transfers and brilliantly translated by ace subtitler Linda Hoaglund--combine to form a sprawling milestone of Japanese cinema. Home Vision's packaging and comprehensive supplements pay honorable tribute to Fukasaku's achievement, with bonus features that provide all the necessary background needed to fully appreciate The Yakuza Papers as a raw, ambitious masterpiece that fully deserves its widespread acclaim.

Excerpt from Jeff Shannon at Amazon located HERE


Titles

Posters

 

 

Distribution

Arrow Films - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Subtitles

English, None

Features

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Films

Edition Details:


BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR AND HUMANITY (DISCS 1 & 2)

• Brand new audio commentary by critic and author Stuart Galbraith IV
Yakuza Graveyard a new interview with Takashi Miike about Kinji Fukasaku and the yakuza film genre (10:54)
• Original Trailer (3:17)

HIROSHIMA DEATH MATCH (DISCS 3 & 4)

Man of Action a new interview with series fight choreographer Ryuzo Ueno (10:44)
• Original Trailer (3:35)

PROXY WAR (DISCS 5 & 6)

Secrets of the Piranha Army a new documentary about the troupe of supporting actors who appeared throughout the series, featuring interviews with original Piranha members Masaru Shiga and Takashi Noguchi, plus second-generation Piranha, Takashi Nishina and Akira Murota (35:46)
Tales of a Bit Player a new interview with supporting actor and stuntman Seizo Fukumoto (10:48)
• Original Trailer (3:14)

POLICE TACTICS (DISCS 7 & 8)

Remembering Kinji a new featurette about director Kinji Fukasaku and his work, featuring interviews with Kenta Fukasaku and film critic and Fukasaku biographer Sadao Yamane (17:39)
Fukasaku Family a new interview with Proxy War and Police Tactics assistant director Toru Dobashi (15:29)
• Original Trailer (3:38)

FINAL EPISODE (DISCS 9 & 10)

Last Days of the Boss a new interview with Final Episode screenwriter Koji Takada (18:49)
• Original poster gallery for the series
• Original Trailer (3:10)

THE COMPLETE SAGA (DISCS 11, 12 & 13) [LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE]

English-subtitled premiere of the 224-minute compilation edition of the first four films, previously screened only as part of a limited Japanese theatrical release in 1980 and on the Toei cable channel
Introduction by Complete Saga editorial supervisor Toru Dobashi (3:00)

THE YAKUZA PAPERS [LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE]
152-page hardback book featuring writing on the history of the yakuza film genre, including a newly-reprinted and fully annotated edition of Paul Schrader's classic 1974 Film Comment essay Yakuza-Eiga: A Primer, a new, exclusive English translation of screenwriter Kazuo Kasahara s 1974 Scenario magazine essay on his writing process for the first four films, as well as new essays and interviews from Chris D., Grady Hendrix, Patrick Macias, Tom Mes, Mark Schilling, and Jasper Sharp

 

Limited Edition packaging and reversible sleeves for all five films including original and newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist

 

UK LIMITED TO 2500 UNITS / US LIMITED TO 2500 UNITS

Blu-ray Release Date: December 7th/8th, 2015

 

Blu-ray Package

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: These Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

This is the another Arrow Blu-ray release that is being simultaneously released in both region 'A' (US) and 'B' (UK). It is the exact same package on both sides of the pond beyond 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.

NOTE: We call this region FREE . although technically it is region 'A' + 'B'. I've yet to see a region 'C'-locked Blu-ray so most will consider this region FREE.

Quite the package from Arrow. We reviewed the Home Vision (now defunct) DVD Boxset (now OOP) back in 2004. So we had captures to do comparisons with the new Arrow 1080P transfers. We should state that this is actually a 13-disc boxset - 6 Blu-rays and 7 DVDs - 'Dual Format' (with the DVD having the content as the BDs.) Arrow has done an amazing job with dual-layered transfers and max'ed out bitrates for the first 5 films. The 'Complete Saga' (edited amalgamation of the five films) has its own Blu-ray and the film itself is 3 3/4 hours and is, obviously, less-robust - still almost filling a full 50 Gig disc.

The appearance is, predictably, very thick and has the green cast often seen in Asian films. Skin tones, generally, cool to a more natural appearance in the higher resolution, we also see more information in the frame - notably on the top edge (sometimes less on the left edge) - and the overall impression is far more film-like than the vertically stretched SDs. I am confident to think it looks as good as it every will on digital - very heavy, foreboding, often dark and with dense, drab, greens and grays.

All audio transfers use a linear PCM mono. It can sound bit erratic at times - occasionally ultra scratchy openings and I'm sure this is reflective of the condition of the sources, but Arrow stay accurate with the flat, mono tracks via the uncompressed renderings. Score for all five films are by Toshiaki Tsushima (Three Outlaw Samurai, Sword of the Beast, The Green Slime and obviously The Complete Saga among others) and the explosive energy suits the genre very well. The quality is imperfect but adds flavor to the film's charisma and frequent aggression. There are optional English subtitles and, as stated, the 6 Blu-ray discs are region 'A' + 'B'.

Arrow, as usual, stack their packages with excellent in-house produced, supplements including, on the first disc - Battles Without Honor and Humanity, a new audio commentary by critic and author Stuart Galbraith IV filling in many details of Kinji Fukasaku's efforts to grind these out ats a steady pace as well as the massive impact on Japanese culture at the time, the violence and much more. It's a good listen! Also on the first Blu-ray disc is Yakuza Graveyard - a 10-minute new interview with Takashi Miike about Kinji Fukasaku,t he yakuza film genre and the director's generation of filmmakers - filmed by Arrow in March 2015. There is also an original, 3-minute, trailer for the first film. On Hiroshima Death Match (one of the best films in the series) we get an 11-minute piece entitled Man of Action - which is a new interview with series fight choreographer Ryuzo Ueno shot exclusively for Arrow in Kyoto in April 2015. This disc also contains the film's trailer. The Proxy War (3rd Blu-ray disc) has Secrets of the Piranha Army a new, 36-minute, documentary about the troupe of supporting actors who appeared throughout the series, featuring interviews with original Piranha members Masaru Shiga and Takashi Noguchi, plus second-generation Piranha, Takashi Nishina and Akira Murota. It's excellent and like all extras is in Japanese with English subtitles. There is also a new interview, entitled Tales of a Bit Player, with supporting actor and stuntman Seizo Fukumoto discussing his work in the series and his career for almost 11-minutes. Another trailer is tacked on to this Blu-ray disc. Police Tactics - the fourth disc - offers Remembering Kinji a new, 18-minute, featurette about director Kinji Fukasaku and his work, featuring interviews with Kenta Fukasaku and film critic and Fukasaku biographer Sadao Yamane plus the 16-minute Fukasaku Family a new interview with Proxy War and Police Tactics assistant director Toru Dobashi- as well as a trailer for the film. The Final Episode disc has the 19-minute Last Days of the Boss - a new, informative, interview with Final Episode screenwriter Koji Takada plus a gallery of posters for the series as well as the original trailer. The final Blu-ray only offers the film and a 3-minute introduction by by Complete Saga editorial supervisor Toru Dobashi. The package offers reversible sleeves for all five films including original and newly commissioned artwork by Reinhard Kleist and a beautifully bound 152-page hardback book featuring writing on the history of the yakuza film genre, including a newly-reprinted and fully annotated edition of Paul Schrader's classic 1974 Film Comment essay Yakuza-Eiga: A Primer, a new, exclusive English translation of screenwriter Kazuo Kasahara s 1974 Scenario magazine essay on his writing process for the first four films, as well as new essays and interviews from Chris D., Grady Hendrix, Patrick Macias, Tom Mes, Mark Schilling, and Jasper Sharp. Wow.

So the question is, how are Arrow continuing to bring these great boxsets out? Are they working around the clock? While these films are memorable from when I saw them on DVD more than a decade ago - this new HD transfer brings out the best in the presentations and film experiences. These jam you into the mood quickly and then you will rifle through them - once you pick up the scent. Masterful, shocking and totally addictive. Each side of the pond gets only 2500 units released so, if you are at all interested, I wouldn't wait. This is exactly the type of thing that will go out-of-print and start fetching outrageous bucks in 3rd-party auctions. Our highest recommendation and it will surely get top-level votes in our year-end poll!   

Gary W. Tooze

 

 


Menus and Supplement Screens

 

 

 

 

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

(aka 'Jingi naki tatakai' or 'Battles Without Honor and Humanity' or 'Tarnished Code of Yakuza' or 'The Yakuza Papers')

directed by Kinji Fukasaku
Japan 1973

 

In the teeming black markets of postwar Japan, Shozo Hirono (Bunta Sugawara) and his buddies find themselves in a new war between fractious and ambitious yakuza. After joining boss Yamamori, Shozo is drawn into a feud with his sworn brother's family, the Dois. But that's where the chivalry of traditional yakuza film ends and the hypocrisy, betrayal, and assassinations begin. A rare and critical perspective on the history of Japan after World War II, Battles Without Honor & Humanity is a tour-de-force that revolutionized the yakuza genre and launched Kinji Fukasaku and Bunta Sugawara to international stardom.

Theatrical Release: March 1973 - Tokyo

Reviews                                                         More Reviews                                              DVD Reviews

Bitrate:

  Battles Without Honor and Humanity (1973)
  Arrow Films

Runtime:

1:39:00.893

Disc Size:

32,154,320,344 bytes

Feature Size:

29,161,872,960 bytes

Video Bitrate:

34.95 Mbps - 2.35:1

Chapters:

12

Audio:

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

Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

1) Home Vision - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Home Vision - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Home Vision - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 


 

(aka 'Jingi naki tatakai: Hiroshima shito hen' or 'Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Deathmatch in Hiroshima' or 'Deadly Fight in Hiroshima' or 'The Yakuza Papers, Vol. 2: Deadly Fight in Hiroshima ')

directed by Kinji Fukasaku
Japan 1973

Repeatedly beat to a pulp by gamblers, cops, and gangsters, lone wolf Shoji Yamanaka (Kinya Kitaoji, who went on to star as Rhett Butler in the Tokyo stage version of Gone With the Wind), finally finds a home as a Muraoka family hit man and falls in love with boss Muraoka's niece. Meanwhile, the ambitions of mad dog Katsutoshi Otomo (Sonny Chiba, Kill Bill) draws our series' hero, Shozo Hirono (Bunta Sugawara), into a new round of bloodshed, culminating with the tragic demise of the young Yamanka.

Theatrical Release: April 28th, 1973

Reviews                                                        More Reviews                                               DVD Reviews

Bitrate:

  Hiroshima Death Match (1973)

Runtime:

1:39:50.609

Disc Size:

31,759,251,207 bytes

Feature Size:

29,179,159,680 bytes

Video Bitrate:

34.88 Mbps - 2.35:1

Audio:

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

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

1) Home Vision - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Home Vision - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Home Vision - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 


(aka 'Jingi naki tatakai: Dairi senso' or 'Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Proxy War' or 'The Yakuza Papers, Vol. 3: Proxy War' or 'The Yakuza Papers: Proxy War')

directed by Kinji Fukasaku
Japan 1973

The successor to Hiroshima's most powerful yakuza family, the Muraokas, is whacked in broad daylight on a busy city street. What unfolds is a yakuza succession crisis, as the weaseley Uchimoto (Takeshi Kato) dithers and the slimy, backstabbing boss Yamamori steps in as the Muraoka's new boss. Bunta Sugawara's would-be independent yakuza, Shozo Hirono, is caught in the middle, having to play powerbroker. But the opposing factions seek support from powerful families in Kobe, making all out war inevitable.

Theatrical Release: September 25th, 1973

Reviews                                                         More Reviews                                            DVD Reviews

Bitrate:

  Proxy War (1973)

Runtime:

1:42:31.019

Disc Size:

37,741,144,939 bytes

Feature Size:

30,005,370,432 bytes

Video Bitrate:

34.93 Mbps - 2.35:1

Audio:

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

 

 CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

1) Home Vision - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Home Vision - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Home Vision - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Home Vision - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Another Blu-ray Capture

 


 

(aka 'Jingi naki tatakai: Chojo sakusen' or 'Battles Without Honor and Humanity 4: Police Tactics' or 'Police Tactics' or 'The Yakuza Papers, Vol. 4: Police Tactics')

directed by Kinji Fukasaku
Japan 1974

As Japan gears up for the 1964 Olympic games, the cops start to crack down under pressure from the public and the press, adding a new dimension in the war for power among the yakuza families of Hiroshima. Akira Kobayashi's Takeda tries to keep a lid on things, but hotheaded underlings create chaos, with one boss whacked in neutral territory, and the craven boss, Uchimoto, informing on an assassination attempt by his own minions. While the police round up hundreds of yakuza foot soldiers, Bunta Sugawara's Shozo Hirono plots to finally take out longtime nemesis, boss Yamamori.

Theatrical Release: January 15th, 1974

Reviews                                                More Reviews                                                DVD Reviews

Bitrate:

  Police Tactics (1974)

Runtime:

1:41:06.143

Disc Size:

35,670,036,937 bytes

Feature Size:

29,611,632,192 bytes

Video Bitrate:

34.96 Mbps - 2.35:1

Audio:

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

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

1) Home Vision - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Home Vision - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Home Vision - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 
More Blu-ray Captures
 


(aka 'Jingi naki tatakai: Kanketsu-hen' or 'Battles Without Honor and Humanity 5: Final Episode' or 'Final Episode' or 'The Yakuza Papers, Vol. 5: Final Episode')

directed by Kinji Fukasaku

Japan 1974

 

In the wake of a big police crackdown, Akira Kobayashi's icily sun-glassed Takeda attempts to transform the Hiroshima yakuza families into a legitimate political organization: The Tensei Coalition. When the young Matsumura ascends to the chairmanship of the coalition, the older, hardened yakuza led by Jo Shishido (Branded to Kill) seize one last opportunity to stir up chaos and bloodshed. Culminating with the arrests, deaths, or retirement of the first postwar yakuza generation, this milestone series draws to an ambivalent close.

 

Theatrical Release: June 29th, 1974

Reviews                                                   More Reviews                                              DVD Reviews

Bitrate:

  Final Episode (1974)

Runtime:

1:37:35.391

Disc Size:

32,480,517,220 bytes

Feature Size:

28,608,206,400 bytes

Video Bitrate:

34.99 Mbps - 2.35:1

Audio:

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

 

 CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

1) Home Vision - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Home Vision - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Home Vision - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 
More Blu-ray Captures
 


(aka 'Battles Without Honor and Humanity: The Complete Saga' or 'Jingi naki tatakai: Sshhen')

directed by Kinji Fukasaku

Japan 1980

 

English-subtitled premiere of the 224-minute compilation edition of the first four films, previously screened only as part of a limited Japanese theatrical release in 1980 and on the Toei cable channel.

 

Bitrate:

Runtime:

3:43:50.667

Disc Size:

49,689,135,545 bytes

Feature Size:

48,808,228,416 bytes

Video Bitrate:

25.99 Mbps - 2.35:1

Audio:

LPCM Audio Japanese 768 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit

 

 CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 
 

 



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