Hideo Gosha is virtually unknown in the West, and The Wolves doesn't show up in any film guide I'm aware of, but it's a yakuza movie in a class of its own, a stunningly realised thriller about a gangster (Nakadai, the singularly intense actor from Kagemusha and Ran) whose early release from jail precipitates further bloodshed even as he endeavours to prove his absolute loyalty by fending off a gang war. Set in late 1920s Japan, in the wake of a general pardon of prisoners, The Wolves is reminiscent of Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest, a novel which has also been linked to Kurosawa's Yojimbo, Leone's A Fistful of Dollars and the Coens' Miller's Crossing. This melancholic, hard-boiled, and utterly gripping movie belongs in that company. Gosha's muscular, Expressionist colour imagery blazes through the screen.
Cast and crew