Gonin (also known as The Five) is a 1995 Japanese Yakuza movie written and directed by Takashi Ishii. The film follows five individuals facing difficult times in the post-economic bubble era of Japan. Mikihiko Bandai (played by Kōichi Satō) is the owner of a once successful nightclub which is now beginning to lose money. Bandai is unable to pay his debts to the local Yakuza and so decides to rob them, assisted by an unlikely team. The heist does not go smoothly and the Yakuza unleash a pair of hitmen on the five as retribution for the robbery.
How was Gonin Received Critically?
Gonin has mostly received positive reviews from audiences and critics alike. It received an 83% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 72% audience score. Similarly, it received an overall rating of 3.6 out of 5 on Letterboxd. The film is considered a sleek, stylish and well-crafted gangster movie. Its portrayal of the characters and their struggles, as well as its themes of malaise and economic turmoil, are considered by many to be thought-provoking & insightful.
About the Director Takashi Ishii
Takashi Ishii was a Japanese manga artist, film director and screenwriter. He was born on July 11, 1946, in Sendai, Japan. Ishii was a renowned artist & director in the pinku eiga (erotic film) genre. He also became famous for his works in the crime thriller genre with Gonin being his most popular work.
Ishii made his directorial debut with Angel Guts 5: Red Vertigo (1988) and went on to direct several other films such as Original Sin (1992) and Gonin 2 (1996). Original Sin received international recognition. It won several awards and was selected for the International Competition section at the 5th Tokyo International Film Festival. Ishii sadly passed away on May 22, 2022, at the age of 75, after a battle with cancer.
Why Takeshi Kitano Wore an Eyepatch in Gonin
One of Gonin’s most memorable characters is the hitman Ichiro Kyoya (portrayed by Takeshi Kitano). In the movie, Ichiro Kyoya wears an eyepatch, which gives the character a distinct appearance. There was, however, a real-life reason for this choice.
The eye patch was worn by Kitano due to the injuries he sustained in a serious 1994 motorcycle accident. He sustained injuries including a skull fracture and a shattered cheekbone and underwent several surgeries to treat this. The accident left Kitano with partial facial paralysis, which caused his left eyelid to droop permanently.
The eye patch is an iconic part of Kitano’s appearance in Gonin and gave his character a unique flare. The true reason for him wearing it though was because his eye was leaking fluids. This made it necessary for him to wear an eye patch to protect his eye and keep it clean.