Cops Vs. Thugs(1975) - Kinji Fukasaku

I thought about recommending Kinji Fukasaku’s Yakuza Papers series, which is often regarded as “The Godfather of Yakuza Movies”. Unfortunately, a 5-film series can be a little intimidating, and they are probably some of the least accessible Yakuza movies for those unfamiliar with the genre. Cops Vs. Thugs contains almost all of what makes those films so great, and it came out just a year after the Yakuza Papers series finished. This film is kind of Fukasaku at the top of his game. Kinji seems to abhor fight choreography and clean John Wayne-style punches. The action scenes are total chaos. Everything in Cops Vs. Thugs is jagged and dynamic. It’s full of beautiful handheld camera work, shimmering reflections, and deep shadows. In many ways, Kinji Fukasaku’s Yakuza films are all the same with their huge casts, warring crime families, and “this means war” montages. Cops Vs. Thugs brings a new dynamic to the table by focusing on the police. The Cops are treated just like another crime family with their own selfish motivations and political machinations. Cops Vs. Thugs might just as well be Cops = Thugs. This is probably one of my favorite Yakuza films, and while it’s certainly much more raw and realistic than some of the 60’s Yakuza flicks, I think it’s a great example of the genre, and a good entry point. It's also easily found thanks to @arrowvideo and their beautiful bluray transfer.

Bryan E. West
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