'Outlaw Gangster VIP: The Complete Collection'
(Tetsuya Watari, Chieko Matsubara, Tamio Kawachi, Shinjirô Ehara, et al / 6-Disc Blu ray / R / 2016 / Arrow Films UK)
Overview: In 1968, acclaimed director Toshio Masuda (Rusty Knife, Tora! Tora! Tora!) and rising star Tetsuya Watari (Tokyo Drifter) teamed up for Outlaw: Gangster VIP, a gritty yakuza yarn based on the writings of real life ex-gangster Goro Fujita.
Blu ray Verdict: The 'Outlaw Gangster VIP: The Complete Collection' series offers up a depiction of the Japanese underworld that was unprecedented in its realism and its sympathetic portrayal of its protagonist as a man haunted by his past, unable to escape a life of crime. The success of the initial installment spawned five sequels, continuing the story of the lone wolf Slasher Goro and his quest for redemption.
The films presented a new kind of realism and violence that would prefigure Kinji Fukasaku s Battles Without Honor and Humanity series, with their winning combination of brutal violence, gang warfare and sweeping romance, these films make for a unique and unforgettable viewing experience.
The set includes six films in the Outlaw series released for the first time in the west: Gangster VIP, Gangster VIP 2, Heartless, Goro the Assassin, Black Dagger, and Kill!
In 'Gangster VIP' (1968), starring Tetsuya Watari, Chieko Matsubara and Mitsuo Hamada, the first installment in the six-part Burai series (1968-69), set in the yakuza world, after spending three years in prison for stabbing a hitman from a rival gang, Goro comes out disenchanted with yakuza life. When he decides to abandon gangster life entirely, tragedy intervenes, and Goro sets out for revenge. Based on the memoirs of a real yakuza, Goro Fujita, this film reveals a darker, more desperate side to Watari’s on-screen persona.
In the sequel, 'Gangster VIP 2' (1968) once again starring Tetsuya Watari alongside Izumi Ashikawa and Eimei Esumi, Goro (Watari) wants to put his dark past behind. He heads to Hirosaki City to offer his condolences to Yumeko and to reunite with Yukiko (Chieko Matsubara), but finds that Yumeko is fatally ill. Although Yukiko was taking care of her, she is pressed for money. Goro wants to help and knows that there is only one way to come up with fast money. The rest, as they say, is Japanese cinema culture history!
Next, in 'Heartless' (1968), starring Tetsuya Watari (as always), Chieko Matsubara and both Kôji Wada and Hiroshi Nawa, Goro (Watari) is now indebted to Mitsugimoto. Sawada, a low rank yakuza with a gambling problem, owed Mitsugimoto three million yen. This equation can only lead to one answer. Mitsugimoto needs to pay and Goro's coming to collect.
In 'Goro the Assassin' (1968), starring Tetsuya Watari, Chieko Matsubara and Jirô Okazaki, on a cold winter day, Goro (Watari) and Mashahiko murder the mob boss of Meishin-Kai. The deed costs them time in prison, but Goro has no shred of regret. When Goro is released two years later, Mashahiko is dying in prison hospital and entrusts his last wish: "Find my sister and take care of her". Goro leave as a free man with a mission, but soon finds that he might have been better off in jail!
In 'Black Dagger' (1968), starring Tetsuya Watari, Tamio Kawachi and Chieko Matsubara, a street war breaks loose between two rival gangs, in the Kansai region of Japan. Of course, our man Goro (Watari) is in the middle of the action! Through a knife fight with Sueo, a high profile gangster from Busou-kai, Goro notices a familiar face approaching him from amidst the chaos - his girlfriend, Yuru (Chieko Matsubara). Goro had sent her to safety, but she had returned, aching to see him. Caught between Goro and his enemy's knife, she reunites with her love - the price was her life!
In the final of the six terrific movies, 'Kill!' (1969), starring Tetsuya Watari, Shinjirô Ehara, Eiji Gô and Gorô Mutsumi, Goro (Watari) has always been a lone wolf. When he arrives at an industrial city in Keihin, there is a certain restlessness in the air. The Iriezaki family and the Kanto Touyu-kai are in the midst of a territorial dispute. Goro is quick to notice, but has no intent to pick a side. At a department store nearby he sees an elevator lady being harassed by a couple of hoodlums, so Goro decides to intervene. Unbeknownst to him, the hoodlums are Touyu-kai members - and the girl has strong ties with the opposing family.
These are all High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations enhanced for 16x9 TVs and come with the Special Features of:
Limited Edition Box Set (3000 copies) containing all six films in the Outlaw series, available with English subtitles for the first time on any home video format
High Definition digital transfers of all six films, from original film elements by Nikkatsu Corporation
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original uncompressed mono audio
Newly translated English subtitles
Audio commentary on Outlaw: Gangster VIP by Jasper Sharp
Visual essay covering the entire series by Kevin Gilvear
Original trailers for all six films
Extensive promotional image galleries for all six films
Exclusive gatefold packaging featuring brand new artwork by Tonci Zonjic
Booklet featuring an interview with director Toshio Masuda by Mark Schilling, plus new writing by Schilling, Chris D and Kevin Gilvear