Hong Kong Cinema

Another Lonely Hitman

  • Made: 1995
  • Format: DVD
  • Region: Region 1 NTSC
  • Release Date: May 2005
  • Company: Artsmagic
  • Length: 106 minutes
  • Picture: Anamorphic 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • Language: Japanese with Subtitles
  • Extras: Interactive menus, interview with Rokuro Mochizuki, Tom Mes commentary, Filmographies and Bios
  • Classification: NR

Director:

Rokuro Mochizuki

Cast:

Ryo Ishibashi, Asami Sawaki, Tatsuo Yamada, Kazuchiko Kanayama, Toshiyuki Kitami

Few films can have conjured such a bleak depiction of the Yakuza underworld as Rokuro Mochizuki's 'Another Lonely Hitman' (1995). The film is masterfully led by Ryo Ishibashi, who plays Tachibana. He will be most familiar to Western fans from his roles in Amercian Yakuza and the ultra-shocking Audition. The film works on many levels as it overlooks the trendy trappings of budget cinema. There is no stylish soundtrack, the lead is a Yakuza well past his sell by date and the normally glamorised world of the Yakuza is stripped naked! Rather than being enchanted by their uber-cool existence, you start to feel sorry for the no-hopers who are living out this life of pimping, dealing and petty crime.

PLOT:

Our first glimpse of Tachibana is during his first 'job' whilst high on heroine. He kills off the rival boss, but then cowardly shoots the victim's daughter in the leg. He leaves prison ten years later to find a much changed world. He is no longer a respected figure in a criminal society driven by drug money and spineless diplomacy. He finds his code of loyalty and respect is a dated institution.

His problems manifest in his relationship with Yuki (Asami Sawaki), a doped prostitute. His impotence is a regular bone of contention within their relationship. Only once he has made her go 'cold turkey' can he start to imagine a future with her. He tries to cleanse both himself and Yuki from the stench of society's criminal underbelly and they depart for a new life. Before the story can end, the one question remains, can Tachibana ever escape his past?

FILM:

On a superficial level, Tachibana is akin to a typical Takeshi Kitano performance; the all too silent, introvert 'hero' who carries the weight of the world on his shoulders. But the character Tachibana is also a lot more than that. Tachibana's motivations flirt between utterly see-through to mysteriously unfathomable. Similar to a Miike film, there is little in the way of morality in the tale and any lurking around is decidedly ambiguous.

DISC:

This is another impressive offering by Artsmagic. The film is a clear anamorphic widescreen print with English removable subtitles. The disc and DVD presentation are a definite step forward in terms of professionalism and style. What will really get the Yakuza fans salivating is the continued presence of a Tom Mes commentary and an exclusive interview with director Rokuro Mochizuki - keep it coming!

OVERALL:

The plot may seem like a well-trodden road for Japanese cinema but it is masterfully executed. There is a pseudo-documentary realism behind the desolate backdrop of Osaka , using the currently in vogue 'hand-held camera' feel. It conjures a powerful landscape of a sprawling and bankrupt metropolis. Tachibana is always fighting against his past, his surroundings and those he cares for, trying to inject respect and decency into a corrupt world. Some will easily discard this work as a poor man's yakuza movie, but Another Lonely Hitman has a subtlety that will ultimately tantalise the viewer, showing love, violence and malaise in a lonely hitman's world.

Paul

webmaster@hkcinema.co.uk