Retaliation (1968) | Yasuharu Hasebe’s Japanese gangster thriller is a knockout
In 1968, Japanese director Yasuharu Hasebe teamed up with the inimitable Jô Shishido (Branded to Kill, Youth of the Beast) for a follow up to their 1967 yakuza hit, Massacre Gun.
Retaliation is a tale of gang warfare that features a raft of the period’s most iconic stars, Akira Kobayashi is a yakuza lieutenant who emerges from jail to find his gang dispersed and his aging boss in his sickbed. Shishido is the rival waiting to kill him and a young Meiko Kaji is the girl caught in the crossfire. Gritty and cynical, Retaliation is a hardboiled precursor to Kinji Fukasaku’s revisionist yakuza pictures of the 1970s.
In May 2015 Arrow Films put out the Blu-ray world premiere release of the Japanese thriller (limited to 3000 copies). The special features include new interviews with star Jô Shishido and a retrospective look at the careers of Hasebe and Shishido, plus trailer and gallery, new artwork by Ian MacEwan, and a booklet featuring an article by Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp. If you haven’t added this to your cult film collection, then maybe it’s time.