The Wolves (also called “Shusso Iwai” or “Celebration of a Prisoner’s Release”) is a 1971 Japanese film directed by Hideo Gosha.
Set in the 1920s, a violent knife brawl within a movie theatre breaks out. Nakadai & Ando are handed lengthy prison sentences for murdering the leader of the Kanno gang. However, the men do not serve long in prison. 4 years later, following the death of the Emperor and the subsequent end of the Taisho era, a general amnesty is declared and the men are set free. Reuniting with their old associates, much to their mistrust, the men soon begin to realise that the old criminal codes they once served by have been abandoned.
The film features several intense and violent scenes, but these are balanced by moments of humour, romance & camaraderie between the characters.
The Wolves is widely regarded as a classic of Japanese cinema. It is seen as a hallmark of director Hideo Gosha’s style. The film’s realistic and authentic portrayal of life in the criminal underworld is often praised and it is considered to be one of the best films in the Yakuza movie genre.
A powerful & compelling film, with gorgeous visuals and intense moments of violence, that is a must-see for both fans of Yakuza-themed films and Japanese cinema in general.
How was The Wolves Received Critically?
The Wolves received positive critical acclaim upon its release in 1971. It was praised for the strong performances of its cast and its realistic portrayal of life in the Japanese criminal underworld.
Here are some examples of quotes from critics.
“A cinematic gem… strong performances, tight editing, and powerful atmosphere.”
“Tough, unsentimental portrayal of life in the criminal underworld… one of the great Japanese crime films of the 1970s.”
“A bleak, bloody, and beautifully shot portrayal of Japan’s criminal underworld… unforgettable portrayal of the harsh realities of life on the margins of society.”
About the Director- Hideo Gosha
Hideo Gosha was a renowned Japanese film director, screenwriter, and producer active from the 1950s to the 1990s. He is regarded as a pioneer of Japanese action and crime films and is particularly well-known for his Samurai and Yakuza-themed movies. Some of his most noteworthy works include “Three Outlaw Samurai” (1964), “Violent Streets” (1974), and “Sword of the Beast” (1965).
Gosha received numerous awards for his impact on Japanese cinema and was honoured by the Japanese government. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1992 at the age of 63 due to oesophagus cancer. Despite his untimely death, Gosha’s contributions to Japanese cinema continue to be celebrated and remembered as some of the most innovative and impactful works of his time.
Other Yakuza Movies by Hideo Gosha
Hideo Gosha has directed numerous movies themed around the life and times of the Yakuza. Here are just a few examples: