Yakuza Classic

Japanese genre auteur Hideo Gosha first rose to prominence in the ‘60s masterfully directing samurai flicks such as the classic Samurai Wolf and Three Outlaw Samurai. Gosha took the skills honed on them in a small handful of tasty yakuza movies as they suddenly became more popular genre fare during the ‘70s.

The explosive Violent Streets is a genre masterpiece of the highest caliber, the Japanese equivalent of Goodfellas. Lurid violence, high-octane action and a great cast produce a sophisticated thriller on par with anything Hollywood has made.

The explosive Violent Streets is a genre masterpiece of the highest caliber, the Japanese equivalent of Goodfellas

Bloody and sensual by equal beats, a retired yakuza night club owner is dragged into a vicious gang war when a star performer is kidnapped and held for ransom. Lead character Egawa is played by the legendary Noboru Ando, an actor who was an actual yakuza member before his screen career. Egawa’s former bosses the Togiku Group is a yakuza clan which has gone corporate, transitioning into legitimate businesses.

Their top singer Minami is kidnapped by a rival yakuza faction, initiating a brutal gang war against the Western Japan Alliance. Hoping to put his criminal life behind him, Egawa is slowly dragged back into the game by a confluence of forces beyond his control. Surprises and twists abound as the narrative unfolds around Egawa. Thoughtful character building by Gosha turns into a symphony of violence.

Gosha toys with genre tropes like his playthings in Violent Streets, carefully assembling an intricate web of double crosses, deception and shocking twists. There is even a cross-dressing assassin in the mold of Neil Jordan’s Crying Game. Provocative and often bleak, the gritty Violent Streets is a potent blend of explosive action and gripping drama.

It’s difficult underselling Violent Streets at the apex of its often tired genre, years ahead of the competition. Considered by many the essential yakuza film of its decade, the movie pulsates with a seedy heart and slick visuals far beyond its exploitation roots. I haven’t caught every Japanese genre movie, but I feel comfortable saying Violent Streets is one of the best ever made. An essential masterpiece for foreign film lovers.


Presented here fully uncut, Film Movement gives Violent Streets a 2K remastered presentation from solid film elements. The 2.39:1 video reflects softer cinematography and a somewhat tepid contrast, though grain reproduction is excellent. The 1974 movie has likely never looked better with convincing definition and tight clarity.

The main feature runs an uncut 96 minutes, encoded in stout AVC on a BD-50. The rugged elements show no obvious wear or damage. The film-like transfer avoids ringing and filtering, accurately capturing the native grain structure. Depth and saturation levels are serviceable, hewing closely to naturalistic flesh-tones and muted colors.

Bouts of softness bleed into the movie, baked into the original elements. Close-ups are nice enough but underwhelming. Violent Streets largely resembles other Japanese genre cinema of the period. Outside of maybe a slightly tighter color correction with crisper black levels, this is a winning 1080p job.


Satisfactory 2.0 PCM Japanese audio reproduces the monaural theatrical soundtrack. Some minor hiss is evident with a hint of boxiness all around. Violent Streets has a mildly dated soundtrack in terms of soundstage and depth.

The catchy score comes off best, offering modest dynamics in full fidelity. Dialogue is clean and intelligible. Action scenes are a bit harsh in the upper registers. There isn’t the power one expects from a gangster film’s audio, occasionally flat and dull.

Optional English subtitles play in a white font, remaining inside the 2.39:1 presentation at all times. It should be mentioned a Spanish song plays during the opening credits which goes untranslated.


Film Movement issues Violent Streets on Blu-ray in North America for the first time, including exclusive special features and a well-done booklet in their usual style. There’s a competing region B edition put out by Masters of Cinema, the key difference there being cuts imposed by the British film censorship board. Only Film Movement’s disc has the full uncut film on Blu-ray. The disc is coded for Region A.

First pressings from Film Movement include a slipcover with the disc arriving inside a clear Blu-ray case. A 16-page booklet with a new essay by Japanese film expert Mark Schilling lucidly covers the movie’s place in Japanese cinema.

Tattooed Director: Hideo Gosha featurette with Tomoe Gosha (19:41 in HD; Japanese w/ English subtitles) – The director’s daughter gives a shockingly candid and frank discussion of her father’s movie, not to mention his personal life. A fascinating interview which also delves into Gosha’s elaborate body tattoo, which took over six months.

A Street That Can’t Be Beat video essay by TokyoScope author Patrick Macias (08:44 in HD) – The author discusses the film’s four primary stars and Gosha’s style.

Violent Streets Trailer (01:31 in HD)

Samurai Wolf Trailer (01:31 in HD)

Samurai Wolf 2 Trailer (01:24 in HD

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not materially affected DoBlu’s editorial process. For information on how we handle all review material, please visit DoBlu’s about us page.

Violent Streets
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras


Hideo Gosha’s acclaimed yakuza masterpiece is the Japanese Goodfellas, a heady plunge into gang war violence and the men who wage it

User Review
0 (0 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 45 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots ripped directly from the Blu-ray:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *