Thursday, September 9, 2021

Graveyards of Honor – Arrow Video (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Dates: Japan, 1975 (Graveyards of Honor), Japan, 2002 (Graveyards of Honor)
Directors: Kinji Fukasaku (Graveyards of Honor 1975), Takashi Miike (Graveyards of Honor 2002)
Cast: Tetsuya Watari, Tatsuo Umemiya, Yumi Takigawa, Eiji Gô, Noboru Andô, Hajime Hana, Mikio Narita, Kunie Tanaka, Shingo Yamashiro, Reiko Ike, Hideo Murota (Graveyards of Honor 1975), Ryo Amamiya, Narimi Arimori, Yoshiyuki Daichi, Hirotarô Honda, Harumi Inoue, Renji Ishibashi, Gorô Kishitani, Shun Sugata, Tetsurô Tanba (Graveyards of Honor 2002)

Release Date: April 5th, 2021 (UK), April 6th, 2021 (USA)
Approximate Running Times: 93 Minutes 38 Seconds (Graveyard  of Honor 1975), 130 Minutes 35 Seconds (Graveyard  of Honor 2002)
Aspect Ratios: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Graveyard  of Honor 1975), 1.85:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC (Graveyard  of Honor 2002)
Rating: 18 (UK), NR(USA)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Japanese (Graveyard  of Honor 1975), DTS-HD Stereo Japanese (Graveyard  of Honor 2002)
Subtitles: English (Both Films)
Region Coding: Region A,B
Retail Price: $49.95 (USA) / £29.99 (UK)

"Set during the turbulent post-war years, Fukasaku’s original 1975 film charts the rise and fall of real-life gangster Rikio Ishikawa (Tetsuya Watari, Outlaw Gangster VIP). Shot through with the same stark realism and quasidocumentarian approach as Fukasaku’s earlier Battles Without Honor and Humanity, Fukasaku nonetheless breaks new ground through his portrayal of a gangster utterly without honor or ethics, surviving by any means necessary in a world of brutal criminality.

Meanwhile, Miike’s 2002 retelling transplants the story to Tokyo at the turn of the millennium. Less a direct remake of Fukasaku’s film than a radical reimagining of the same overarching premise, Miike’s film captures both the hedonism and nihilism of the modern Japanese crime scene in deliriously stylish fashion, resulting in a fascinating companion piece to the original that nonetheless stands as its own entity." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4/5 (Graveyard  of Honor 1975), 4.25/5 (Graveyard  of Honor 2002)

Here’s the information provided about Graveyard of Honor's (1975) transfer, "The High Definition master was produced and supplied by TOEI, with additional grading by Arrow Films at R3Store Studios, London."

Here’s the information provided about Graveyard of Honor's (2002) transfer, "The High Definition master was produced and supplied by Kadakowa."

Graveyard of Honor 1975 comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 31.1 GB

Feature: 23.9 GB

Graveyard of Honor 2002 comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 45 GB

Feature: 34.6 GB

The source used for both transfers looks clean and both transfers have an organic look. That said, Graveyard of Honor 1975 has a few moments where the image looks soft and some darker scenes do not look as strong as the bulk of the transfer. Colors look very good on both transfers and outside of a few minor moments (Graveyard of Honor 1975), image clarity looks solid throughout.

Audio: 4/5 (Graveyard  of Honor 1975, Graveyard  of Honor 2002)

Graveyard of Honor 1975 comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mono mix in Japanese and included with this release are removable English subtitles.

Graveyard of Honor 2002 comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD stereo mix in Japanese and included with this release are removable English subtitles.

Both of these audio mixes sound clean, clear and balanced throughout. With Graveyard of Honor 2002 sounding fuller than its counterpart.

Extras:

Extras for Graveyard of Honor 1975 include reversible cover art, an image gallery (28 images - stills/posters), a theatrical trailer for Graveyard of Honor 1975 (3 minutes 31 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Japanese with removable English subtitles), an archival interview with assistant director Kenichi Oguri titled On the Set with Fukasaku (5 minutes 34 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Japanese with removable English subtitles), an archival appreciation of Fukasaku and his films, featuring interviews with filmmakers, scholars, and friends of the director titled A Portrait of Rage (19 minutes 46 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Japanese with removable English subtitles), a visual essay by critic and Projection Booth podcast host Mike White titled Like a Balloon: The Life of a Yakuza (13 minutes 11 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and an audio commentary with author and film critic Mark Schilling.

Extras for Graveyard of Honor 2002 include reversible cover art, an image gallery (5 images - stills/poster), a theatrical trailer for Graveyard of Honor 2002 (1 minute 39 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Japanese with removable English subtitles), an archival featurette titled Premiere Special (4 minutes 3 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Japanese with removable English subtitles), an archival featurette titled Press Conference (4 minutes 17 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Japanese with removable English subtitles), an archival featurette titled Making of Teaser (2 minutes 14 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Japanese with removable English subtitles), an archival Making of featurette (8 minutes 2 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Japanese with removable English subtitles), an archival featurette titled Interview Special (17 minutes 59 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo Japanese with removable English subtitles), a visual essay by author and film critic Kat Ellinger titled Men of Violence: The Male Driving Forces in Takashi Miike’s Cinema (23 minutes 46 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles) and an audio commentary with Takashi Miike biographer Tom Mes.

Summary:

Graveyard of Honor 1975: Kinji Fukasaku's initial output in the 1960’s B-films that featured criminals/outsiders who lived on just outside of the law. And though his later films would feature similar characters, he would not find his groove as a filmmaker until the early 1970’s when he ventured into the Yakuza film genre. With his break-through as a filmmaker being the Battles Without Honor and Humanity films series. Creatively, Kinji Fukasaku's peak as a filmmaker was a six-year period between 1970 and 1976. During this period he would make some of the most brutal and influential Japanese films to ever emerge from Japan.

Though Kinji Fukasaku has many films that can-be called his best or called some of Japanese cinema’s greatest films. In 1976 he directed Graveyard of Honor, what is undeniably his greatest film. Content wise, Graveyard of Honor is the quintessential Japanese gangster film that not only influenced all Japanese gangster films that followed. It’s easy to see how a film like Graveyard of Honor influenced American gangster films like Martin Scorsese’s Goodfella’s.

Without a doubt, the single element that has made 1970’s Yakuza endure is how most of these films inspired by headlines and quickly thrown into production. There’s an immediacy to 1970’s Yakuza cinema that reinforces their intense narratives. That said, though Graveyard of Honor was not ripped from the headlines, it was loosely based on the life of Rikio Ishikawa an infamous member of the Yakuza.

Graveyard of Honor’s heart and soul is Tetsuya Watari portrayal of Rikio Ishikawa. He's most known for his role in Seijun Suzuki’s Tokyo Drifter and portraying Gorô Fujikawa in the Outlaw Gangster VIP film series. It’s hard to imagine a better performance than the one he delivers in Graveyard of Honor. He’s utterly convincing as a mean son of a bitch who’s fearlessness always has him one step away from death's door.

From a production standpoint, Kinji Fukasaku is at the top of his game. His direction perfectly captures Rikio Ishikawa’s explosive persona and the chaos that surrounds him. Also, visually Kinji Fukasaku superbly employs a variety of cinema techniques like, the use of sepia tone for flashbacks, black & white photography with voice-over narration, odd angle compositions and handheld shots that are overflowing with kinetic energy. Ultimately, Graveyard of Honor is a explosion of violence that perfectly captures the turmoil that engulfed post war Japan.

Graveyard of Honor 2002: It’s not surprising that a filmmaker like Takashi Miike would remake Graveyard of Honor. Visually and content wise, Takashi Miike has more similarities to Kinji Fukasaku than any other director. That said, though Takashi Miike’s Graveyard of Honor might be considered a remake, it's better described as a retelling of the same source. With Takashi Miike finding that perfect balance between Yakuza cinema’s well established cliches and his own cinematic sensibilities. Needless to say Takashi Miike’s Graveyard of Honor is an exhilarating film that more than holds its own when compared to Kinji Fukasaku’s Graveyard of Honor.

Graveyards of Honor was originally released as a limited edition by Arrow Video that came with a booklet that’s not included as part of this re-release. That said, Graveyards of Honor is a solid release from Arrow Video that comes with strong audio/video presentations and a wealth of extra content, highly recommended.

                                            Graveyard of Honor 1975 screenshots.








                                             Graveyard of Honor 2002 screenshots.








Written by Michael Den Boer

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