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Blood and Bones - Chi to Hone (Sai Yoichi 2004)


Blood and Bones
[Chi to Hone]

Genre: Proto-Yakuza Korean Immigrant Drama

review in one breath

This amazingly gritty saga of the formidable rise and demise of Kin Shunpei, a Korean immigrant to Osaka, Japan in the 1920's depicts not only the struggles and victories of the early Korean immigrant communities within Japan but also the almost unwitting emergence of a highly entrenched (Korean-immigrant-based) Yakuza presence which (it is said) exists to this day. Chi to Hone offers the Japanese version of a far more brutal and far less idealized Godfather. This is undoubtedly one to see.


This is the latest film directed by the rather prolific Sai Yoichi. Based on a novel of the same name by author Yan Sogiru, an Osaka native of Korean descent, the film is told through the narrative eyes of Masao, whose father traveled from south Korea to Osaka in a bid for a better life.

The father, Kin Shunpei, is wholly-convincingly played by Takeshi Kitano(aka "Beat Takashi"). Following a tragic traffic accident which nearly paralyzed him, Kitano has made a very marked turn in his career, from the purely nonsense-laden to a very noticeable appreciation of world cultures and tradition. This film fits squarely within that trajectory.

As regards immigrant struggles captured on film, director Miike Takashi also has quite a library. However, despite Miike's notorious attraction toward extreme depictions, none of his films (which I have seen) come anywhere near the brute reality of Chi to Hone.

Similarly, this in many ways initially appears to be a Japanese take on the Godfather, but with wholly different outcomes. So different, in fact, that Western audiences may be wholly riveted by the fact that power and influence do not simply yield success.

Rather, this far more realistic tale will suggest a perpetually brutal, chaotic and tragic origin of the (Korean-based) Yakuza.


The brute realism of this tale and the honesty of core characters' demises easily blows (director) Miike's same-genre films out of the water. I wholly encourage you to watch this film. Not only will you be entertained, but you will feel you were present at a crucial and critically tragic time in the formation of Japan's underground.

Here's a rather unique and memorable depiction of the era which ascetically denies itself the foolish luxuries of idealized or heroic conclusions. And yet the force of this film is more palpable that any hollywood myth.

Version reviewed: Unsubtitled VHS

cultural interest violence sex strangeness
Riveting tale of the brutal emergence of Japan's Korean-immigrant yakuza. Plenty of physical violence toward both male and female. Several rapacious or consensual sex scenes. Kitano proves a voracious man of stamina. An excellent and absorbding tale of a Korean-immigrant family's struggle, tragedy and survival in pre-War Japan.

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