Asakawa Jiro is a small time confidence man with big ambitions.
Operating outside of the Yakuza, he sets up a sting on a local
factory; things seem to be going well until he is recognised
by Kumiko, though he, in turn, recognises her as the arsonist
who set fire to the factory. Instead of mutually unmasking
each other they join forces in a series of audacious cons.
Completing the crime trio is J a violent but dim-witted heavy
who attempts to look after both of them...
Confessions (Gukodu Zangeroku) was released in
nineteen-ninety-eight. Directed by Mochizuki Rokuro, who previously
released the critically acclaimed Onibi
(The Fire Within) for which he won the Kimema
Junpo Award for best director - an award which he also received
for Koi Gokudo and Mukokuseki No Otoko. He remains
an influential director in Japan and, with the recent increase
in western interest in Japanese movies, finally we are getting
access to a great director and story teller.
many Japanese films of the era, Mobsters' Confessions
was adapted from a manga; in this case one created by Kono
Takeshi, which itself was adapted from the original novel
by Asada Jiro. Mobsters' Confessions does not betray
its comic book roots - embracing many of the framing traditions
found in manga. The introduction of the Yakuza bigwigs is
a case in point, each are introduced as a black and white
still shot which could have been pulled straight from the
original manga. Japanese cultural love affair and obsession
with manga is reflected in Jiro's need to categorise people,
as to whether they are like him or not, with the simple choice
as to whether they prefer Akira or not. In an unfortunate
scene Kumiko fails to choose Akira and is battered
to the ground for her trouble.
Shunsuke plays Jiro with a great deal of passion, though that
passion is often confused. Quick to anger and not above random
acts of violence, Jiro is a character that on the surface
would use anyone, in any way, to achieve his desired ends.
However, in Kumiko, played by Kanaya Amiko, he finds something
else, the possibility of love. The problem is that love is
based on trust, how can two people whose very existence relies
on falsehood and lies find any common ground where they could
trust each other enough to fall in love? Jiro even lies to
himself to allow for the use he makes of Kumiko, as a sex
object, to be used and traded in his various schemes. Only
when they make love is there an abiding need in him to trust
her. In scenes bordering on sexual violence Jiro literally
strips away her clothes, her disguise and artifice in an effort
to get to the very core of her being. Finally, he puts himself
in harms way to save her life, but it turns out to be a gesture
that comes a little too late for their relationship.
only character that seems to see through the falsehoods, that
Jiro and Kumiko have surrounded themselves with, is J played
by Tsurumi Shingo. He revels in all aspects of their relationship
and through his bond of loyalty tries to keep the lovers safe
and together. This is not as easy as it sounds as J is a bit
of an idiot. Tsurumi creates a truly comic character, which
would be funny in any language. Half the time when watching
the film I lost track of the subtitles as I was laughing too
much as I kept my eyes glued on J. The other main characters
Moriyasu (Kurnuma Hiromi), Daimon (Yamamoto Ryuji) and Kamewada
(Hino Shohei) are played faultlessly by their respective actors,
but this film belongs to the unlucky trio.
The sound and picture on the disc are both fine but what really
adds to the movie is an extensive in depth interview with
the director. I would really advise anyone wishing to get
the most out of the film to watch this first.
you like gangster flicks, comedies or good film making in
general, get the film, I'm sure you'll enjoy it as much as
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