Ryuzo and His Seven Henchmen – LA Eigafest Review

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Early in his career, Kitano took part in a lot of comedies and variety shows such as “Sekai Marumie” or “Takeshi’s Castle” – the footage used for the show “MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge.” After spending the past few years creating gritty, violent dramatic films, writer/director Takeshi “Beat” Kitano is going back to his lighthearted roots with Ryuzo and His Seven Henchmen. But does the film provide the same great quality of films that Kitano is known for?

Well, yes and no. While Ryuzo and His Seven Henchmen is laugh-out-loud funny and extremely entertaining to watch, the film’s inconsistent pacing and episodic structure prevents the film from living up to its goals.

Ryuzo and His Seven Henchmen follows Ryuzo (Tatsuya Fuji), an old Yakuza gangster who’s fed up with the disrespect that he gets from the young “gangsters” ruling over his old turf. He decides to form a new Yakuza family from his old gang that is still alive. In order to reclaim his former glory before it’s too late, Ryuzo and his gang must outsmart a group of young ruthless crooked businessmen.

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Much of the charm of Ryuzo comes from the gang themselves. Although Kitano cranks up the old geezer jokes to 11, the group is still endearing to watch. These guys go around screaming at everyone and trying to intimidate their rival gang, but their ineptitude to actually succeed in their plans is so delightful to watch. They’re more adorable than menacing and that’s obviously the point.

It’s also a testament to the acting ability of this lovable cast of old geezers. Especially Tatsuya Fuji, who plays Ryuzo with a Toshiro Mifune-style presence that’s both cool and engaging. But overall, the entire cast of characters has great chemistry together. That’s why the film works so well. When the gang goes through their outrageous situations, watching them interact with each other is amusing to watch.

That is if you’re into goofy comedies with lots of fart jokes (I happen to love goofy comedies). Some of the humor is juvenile, so if that’s your thing then you’ll love this film. Otherwise, the jokes may fall flat.

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The film’s biggest problem comes from its inconsistency. Ryuzo suffers from an episodic structure that doesn’t feel like they connect with each other. Simply put, it felt like a bunch of sitcom episodes put together into one film. Thus, the storyline gets lost in the film’s structure. Thankfully the film has such a super simplistic storyline that it’s easy to remember what the film is about because the film loses focus on that storyline fast.

Overall, Ryuzo and His Seven Henchmen is a hilarious and entertaining return for the “king of all media.” However, the film’s inconsistency prevents the film from becoming a comedy classic. If you can look past that, then get ready to laugh yourself to tears because this film is definitely an enjoyable film experience.

Rating: 4/5 atoms
NR 4 Atoms - B

Ryuzo and His Seven Henchmen was the closing film of LA Eigafest 2015.

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1475 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.