After watching Outlaw: Gangster VIP 2 (1968), I had a series of amazing revelations. First, that really is the title (at least the one Arrow Video decided to go with). Second, it came out in April 1968, just a few months after the first movie. Third, no less than five movies in this series came out in 1968 – it’s almost a shame the sixth skids into 1969, but that’s a movie for another day. Fourth, these movies are almost impossible to research: there aren’t even Wikipedia articles, in English or Japanese.
VIP 2 is like the Force Awakens of yakuza movies, rehashing the plot of the last movie with minor twists – even though it spends the first several minutes recapping everything that happened last time, like some extended Previously On. The more I think about it, the more I realise this movie is more like television, multiple episodes hitting the theatre in the same year. I guess it makes sense, before home televisions became popular, but then I think by the end of the ’60s Japanese cinema attendance was in decline due to television, so who knows.
This time the action moves out of Tokyo to Aomori (so the movie has snow, and of course I love it) and Yokohama. Brothers are avenged, women are in trouble, the laconic hero gets dragged back into the yakuza underworld. It’s great, and this time, makes me think even more that the Yakuza games draw heavy inspiration from films like this, if not these exact films. Moments after arriving in Aomori, Goro stumbles into a fight with local thugs in order to protect some strangers – what could be more Kiryu than that?
Inexplicably, the production values seem to have shot up in the four month interim between movies, or maybe I’m just getting used to watching crappy ’60s movies. Either way, watching messy yakuza brawls with scenery flying everywhere and plenty of overacting isn’t getting old.
Outlaw: Gangster VIP 2 / 無頼 大幹部 (Burai Daikanbu)
Director: Keiichi Ozawa
Japanese Release Date: 28th April 1968
Version Watched: Arrow Video’s Outlaw: Gangster VIP The Complete Collection, 97 min