Kicking off the new year by reveling in two of our favorite things: movies from Japan’s Nikkatsu Studio and whiskey from Japan’s Nikka distillery. Yeah, no relation, but I need only the flimsiest of excuses to kick back and watch chipmunk-cheeked hitman Joe Shisido knock off wise guys while I down a dram or two of Nikka whiskey. And first up:
CRUEL GUN STORY
Cruel Gun Story is –- like Nikkatsu’s Youth of the Beast, Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards! and 3 Seconds Before Explosion before it –- based on a book by hardboiled crime novelist Haruhiko Oyabu. It tells the story of Togawa, a con who is sprung from prison early via the machinations of a mysterious underworld kingpin who communicates with him through an emissary, a former mob lawyer named Ito. Ito and his boss want Togawa to carry out a robbery that they’ve planned, involving an armored car shipment of racetrack receipts worth 120 million yen, and have hand selected a crew of four men to assist him in the task. They also seem to know an awful lot about Togawa, including the fact that he has a younger sister who was disabled in an accident that Togawa feels at least partially responsible for –- a fact which makes the cash-strapped felon that much more likely to take them up on their offer.