The Yakuza play a role in Japanese culture which can only really be compared with that of the Mafiosi in Italy. The origins of today’s crime syndicates reach back over hundreds of years, to the Edo period in Japan. However, the post-war era was fertile ground for these organisations to flourish, establishing footholds within local governments and stepping into a gap left by power vacuums and economic rebuilding. This is the setting for Kinji Fukasaku’s Graveyard of Honor.

Graveyard of Honor (1975)

Based on the rise and fall of Rikio Ishikawa (Tetsuya Watar), a real-life gangster, Fukasaku’s vision begins with actual recollections of his childhood and early life. We’re then transported to Shinjuku, Tokyo, for our first glimpse of Ishikawa, a member of the Kawada clan, attacking a member of a rival family who is muscling in on their territory. What follows charts his increasingly reckless behaviour and his relationship with a geisha, Chieko (Yumi Takigawa). Using a range of techniques, including drowning major milestones in beautiful monochrome and a myriad of inventive camera angles, Fukasaku creates wildly thrilling and exhilaratingly kinetic bursts of bloody action and chaos. His vision mixes the grittiness of the era with stunning cinematography by Hanjirô Nakazawa, creating a  startlingly original film.

Graveyard of Honor (2002)

As both a huge fan of Goro Fujita’s gangster novel and the original adaptation, Takashi Miike’s approached his 2002 film as more of a reimagining than a remake. Whilst much of the story remains similar, the way he goes about it is markedly different. As you’d expect, it is stylish but nowhere near as innovative as the original. It’s much more brutal and explicit in terms of Ishikawa’s actions, this time played by Goro Kishitani. It’s still a superior slice of Yakuza madness but it doesn’t quite reach the same heights or leave the same impression.

Limited edition contents:

  • Exclusive two-disc set featuring two different versions of Graveyard of Honor: the 1975 film by Kinji Fukasaku and the 2002 film by Takashi Miike
  • Limited edition packaging featuring newly commissioned artwork by Ian MacEwan
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on both films by Jasper Sharp

Disc one: Graveyard of Honor (1975)

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original lossless Japanese PCM 1.0 mono soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles
  • New audio commentary by author and critic Mark Schilling
  • Like a Balloon: The Life of a Yakuza, a new visual essay by critic and Projection Booth podcast host Mike White
  • A Portrait of Rage, an archival appreciation of Fukasaku and his films, featuring interviews with filmmakers, scholars, and friends of the director
  • On the Set with Fukasaku, an archival interview with assistant director Kenichi Oguri
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Imagery gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ian MacEwan

Disc two – Graveyard of Honor (2002)

  • High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentation
  • Original lossless Japanese PCM 2.0 stereo soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles
  • New audio commentary by Miike biographer Tom Mes
  • New visual essay by author and critic Kat Ellinger
  • Archival “interview special” featuring Miike and cast members Goro Kishitani and Narimi Arimori
  • Archival “making-of” featurette
  • Archival “making-of” teaser
  • Archival press release interviews featuring Miike, Kishitani and Arimori
  • Archival “premiere special” featuring Miike, Kishitani and Arimori
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Imagery gallery
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ian MacEwan

Graveyards of Honor is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Video on 7 September.