Blackmail Is My Life

"Very Good"

Blackmail Is My Life Review


A nod from Quentin Tarantino to 2000's already-legendary (but apparently undistributable) Battle Royale put then-70-year-old director Kinji Fukasaku on the map for many western audiences. But this prolific Japanese filmmaker, who died in 2003, had long since made himself a name at home as an auteur who favored outrageous style and biting social commentary in his films and, recently, as an alleged tyrant who was prone to throwing memorable tantrums on his sets.

Despite a substantial oeuvre, Fukasaku movies could be hard to lay your hands on, sometimes even in Japan. Thanks to the efforts of Home Vision Entertainment, a sampling of Fukasaku's late '60s/early '70s social comedies has become available on DVD, among them 1968's Blackmail Is My Life.

Welcome back. Blackmail Is My Life tells the story of a Tokyo-style band of outsiders, led by the irrepressible Muraki (Hiroki Matsukata), who find that at the table of Japan's postwar "economic miracle" a place has not been laid for them. They've turned to grift and petty theft to keep their clothes up-to-date and the drinks pouring, but they're as innocent as babies to the bigger scheme of things. (Muraki, in the film's opening shot, jumps exuberantly from the shower and stands bare-assed before his window, part sexy gangster and part little boy.) This naivetŽ is stripped from our hero and his gang in episodes - their criminal exploits grow more ambitious, with a corresponding rise in the severity of the stakes - until they reach the inescapable conclusion that in the world of crime, as in the world of commerce, the old guard tends its own.

Blackmail Is My Life is stylish, and it bumps along with wit and palpable energy. Fukasaku wields his camera with such abandon that you worry for the equipment's physical safety, the psychic welfare of the editor coming next to mind. Talk of the New Wave aside, this marriage of ostensibly "social" material to an off-the-cuff style most closely recalls a disposable edge-of-the-'70s aesthetic, like a Japanese Hell Up in Harlem or Mother, Jugs and Speed. (In case clarification is needed, this is a pleasurable nostalgia for me.) In the lead role, Matsukata projects a just-right mix of grown-up disquiet and adolescent flippancy.

And Blackmail Is My Life is rounded out with a trick ending in which the director fitted an actor with a wildly bleeding wound and turned him loose on the street among unsuspecting bystanders in hopes of catching their genuine reactions. Whether the actor overacted or the blood was too profuse (or too bright red) we'll never know, but in the final product no one present seems to be fooled at all.

Aka Kyokatsu koso Waga Jinsei.



Facts and Figures

Production compaines: Shochiku Company

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Kinji Fukasaku

Producer:

Starring: as Muraki, as Otoki, Akira Jo as Zero, Hideo Murota as Seki

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

On the Road Movie Review

On the Road Movie Review

Wolf Alice fans are likely to be rather disappointed by this hybrid documentary-drama about the...

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Borg/McEnroe Movie Review

Skilfully made by Swedish filmmaker Janus Metz (the award-winning Armadillo), this film is essentially a...

The Glass Castle Movie Review

The Glass Castle Movie Review

There are quite a few terrific moments in this true story, based on the memoir...

Home Again Movie Review

Home Again Movie Review

Reese Witherspoon is so likeable that she can carry even the most hackneyed of romantic...

Brimstone Movie Review

Brimstone Movie Review

An unnerving Western with a sharp female perspective, this film is a series of gruesome...

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Movie Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers...

Advertisement
Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

Goodbye Christopher Robin Movie Review

This biopic about Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne may look like the usual lushly...

Wind River Movie Review

Wind River Movie Review

After writing the superb Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan moves back into...

The Vault Movie Review

The Vault Movie Review

Filmmakers Dan Bush and Conal Byrne attempt a mash-up of a frantic heist movie with...

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

Goon: Last of the Enforcers Movie Review

The 2012 Canadian comedy Goon was one of those surprising little films that snuck up...

Detroit Movie Review

Detroit Movie Review

After The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal reteam to...

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Logan Lucky Movie Review

Good news: Steven Soderbergh's well-publicised retirement from directing only lasted about four years. He's back...

American Made Movie Review

American Made Movie Review

An enjoyably freewheeling tone and Tom Cruise's star wattage combine to make this an entertaining...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.