Document type
22 May 2001
Format viewed

Another Battle

picture: Another Battle (2000)picture: Another Battle (2000)

Original title
Shin Jingi Naki Tatakai
  • Etsushi TOYOKAWA
  • Tomoyasu HOTEI
  • Koichi SATO
  • Sho AIKAWA
Running time
109 mins.

picture: Another Battle (2000)

Tom Mes

As the Japanese title indicates, this is a supposed reworking of Kinji Fukasaku's classic Battles Without Honour and Humanity series. When director Junji Sakamoto introduced his film at the 2001 Rotterdam Film Festival however, the first thing he said was that it's not. According to him, the studio simply added a commercially viable title to his stand-alone yakuza movie.

What Sakamoto also said was that Japanese audiences on the whole had found the film too talky and boring. He hit the nail right on the head. Another Battle is indeed filled with scores of dialogue scenes. A prologue set in 1972 sets up the story of two childhood friends of Korean descent who choose different paths in life. One gets involved in organized crime, the other becomes a restaurateur and honourable civilian. It's a none too original concept, but at least it supplies us with a strong base for dramatic development and conflict.

Sakamoto however, does nothing with it. When the story shifts to the present day we get one terrific sequence oozing yakuza cool, but from there the film quickly grinds to a halt. The estranged friends don't even meet until well over an hour into the film and instead what we get is endless yakuza talk over who should be boss of what outfit and who has to be killed in order to get there. This definitely isn't Battles Without Honour and Humanity, but rather Battles Without Action and Excitement: the first action scene is in fact the film's finale. But with all the tedium that preceeds it, you might not last that long.

Another Battle's sole redeeming feature is the music, a powerful rock updating of the classic Battles Without Honour soundtrack (a smart move, since most Japanese know it by heart) by Tomoyasu Hotei, who reprises the dual role of actor/composer that he previously held on Hiroyuki Nakano's Samurai Fiction (1998). If the movie had had half the power of its soundtrack, Another Battle might have ended up decent yakuza fare. As it stands, it's a very poor attempt indeed.

Director Sakamoto, a former assistant of Sogo Ishii, is mainly known as the director of boxing movies like his debut Knock Out! (Dotsuitarunen, 1989), Tekken (1991), Boxer Joe (1995) and the stand-out Tokarev (1994). The same year as Another Battle he also made Face (Kao), an award-winning drama about the friendship between two women which got the director widespread recognition in his home country.


Toei Video (Japan)

picture: DVD cover of 'Another Battle'

Region 2. No subtitles.

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