'Cops vs Thugs' (2-Disc Special Edition)
(Bunta Sugawara, Reiko Ike, Hiroki Matsukata, et al / Blu-ray+DVD / R / (1975) 2017 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: Acting boss Hirotani of the Ohara gang uses his friendship with corrupt cop Kuno to usurp a staged land deal that rival yakuza gang Kawade had arranged through local politicians. Open warfare erupts between the two gangs.
Blu-ray Verdict: Director Kinji Fukasaku (also known for his successful movie 'Battle Royale') began his career with Yakuza movies and soon become the most representative director of the genre; and deservedly so. Now considered the master of this kind of film, inspiring well-known authors like Kitano and Miike along the way, here in 'Cops vs Thugs' he breaks free somewhat from his ethos to distort the lines between said cops and thugs; thus making it not so easy to determine who is good and who is bad.
In general, the actors give good performances, the main character has the great Bunta Sugawara playing a superb role struggling between the law and, well, commonsense, I guess you would call it. He alone stands against the world like Dirty Harry, but the humanity of his character still manages to cause a lot of doubt in all those he faces; good or supposedly bad.
Sure some actors appear to strain to provide varied performances, and the repetitious nature of the script and direction yields a fair amount of you looking at your watch, and ok, sure, the overall plot of the movie isn't very original, but what's more important (at least I think so) is if the movie can still jet along regardless of those facts; keeping you attention in those need-to-watch moments. And 'Cops vs Thugs' does just that, and very nicely, I might add.
A rousing score inspired by blaxploitation movies and a welcome and strong performance from the always-lovely Reiko Ike means this movie definitely gets two thumbs up from me. Chock full of violence, fist fights, shoot outs and so much more associted with films like this, 'Cops vs Thugs' is highly recommended to fans of the genre. This is a Widescreen presentation (1:78.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
High Definition digital transfer
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original uncompressed mono audio
Optional English subtitles
Beyond the Film: Cops vs Thugs, a new video appreciation by Fukasaku biographer Sadao Yamane
A new visual essay on cops & criminals in Fukasaku's works by film scholar Tom Mes
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ian MacEwan
+ FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Patrick Macias
'Cops vs Thugs' (2-Disc Special Edition) is available for purchase on May 23rd, 2017.