Young Boss
Director: Kimiyoshi Yasuda

Director: Kazuo Ikehiro

Director:Kazuo Ikehiro

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

In the 1969 remake of Waka oyabun set at the turn of the Showa Era, the son of a yakuza boss gives up a navy career to avenge the murder of his father, destroying evil yakuza so that good yakuza can prevail.

Takeshi Nanjo is played by Hiroki Matsukata who some may recognize from gorier yakuza films directed by Kinji fukasaku, co-starring with Bunta Sugawara in Battles without Honor or Humanity among so many others.

Nanjo also kills crazy army radicals who try to start world war. The film strangely suggests the army did start the Asian war while the navy remained pure & holy.

A caucasian American arms dealer helped the evil army while pure-as-driven-snow good yakuza boys helped wonderful peace-loving navy men in the vain effort to avert tragedy. It's very entertaining bullshit.

Young BossThe same character of Takeshi Nanjo had earlier been brought to the screen in the "Young Boss" series starring Raizo Ichikawa. The first in the series Waka oyabun (Young Boss, 1965) is essentially the same story remade in 1969.

The earlier version is more appealing only because Raizo Ichikawa was such a strong screen presence, & Raizo's recurring leading lady Shiho Fujimura as the innocent geisha Chiyoume sparkles alongside Raizo.

Young BossRaizo projects a war hero's purity in this series & it's sometimes amazing that this is the same actor who projected an amoral antihero as Kyoshiro Nemuri in the far better remembered Full Moon Swordsman/Son of the Black Mass series.

The Daiei Young Boss series was not as brutal nor quite as romanticized as the best Toei chivalrous gambler product of the decade, but rarely short on action, especially in the violent final reel of episode after episode.

The eight films of Raizo's Waka oyabun series were released in this order:

Waka oyabun
(Young Boss, 1965)
Directed by Kazuo Ikehiro
Waka oyabun shutsugoku
(Young Boss Released,1965)
Directed by Kazuo Ikehiro
Waka oyabun kenka-jyo
(Young Boss & the Princess aka Record of a Young Boss's Fight, 1966)
Directed by Kazuo Ikehiro
Waka oyabun norikomu
(Young Boss Overcomes Adversity, 1966)
Directed by Akira Inoue
Waka oyabun abare hisha
(Young Boss: Raging Rickshaw Driver, 1966)
Directed by Shigeo Tanaka
Waka oyabon o kesa
(Exterminate the Young Boss, 1967)
Directed by Chuzo Nakanishi
Waka oyabun kyojo tabi
(Young Boss's Criminal Journey aka Young Boss, Fugitive, 1967)
Directed by Kazuo Mori
Waka oyabun senryu-hada
(Young Boss's 1000 Ryo Body aka Torpedo X, 1967)
Directed by Kazuo Ikehiro
Young Boss 3 In two episodes Kyoko Enami of Daiei Studio's "Onna Tobakushi" Woman Gambler series becomes Raizo's leading lady. She is in Waka oyabun kyojo tabi directed by Kazuo Mori (aka Issei Mori), & has an entirely different role in Waka oyabun kenka-jyo directed by Kazuo Ikehiro.

In the latter she plays a Mongolian princess whom the sailor Nanjo kidnaps in Shanghai & takes to Japan. Also in the cast are Miwa Takada, Aikiko Koyoma, Ryuzo Shimoda & Rokko Toura.

Raizo as Nanjo, a young yakuza boss of the 1920s, once again proves he has an uncommonly pure heart, asserting that he is committed to "championing the weak," although he becomes awfully disillusioned.

In the climax he finally takes up his longsword for the bloody raid against bad-guys, winning, but throwing his sword away as he stands in the snow looking unhappy. Although it's a pretty run of the mill chivalrous yakuza tale, Raizo nevertheless looks so good as the young boss archetype that it's rather a fun show.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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