Title: Osaka Tough Guys
AKA: Naniwa Yukyoden
Genre: Action/Crime Film/Parody
Year Released: 1995
Running Time: 101 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: 17+
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: The Audition, Kung Fu Hustle, Beavis and Butthead
-Osaka Tough Guys is based on a manga by the author pen named Dokuman.
-Speaking of Osaka, director Takashi Miike was born in Yao, Japan. It’s a suburb of Osaka and it has 268,013 people according to their latest census. Also, Osaka is the 3rd largest city in Japan for those that didn’t know.
-Osaka Tough Guys was one of Takashi Miike’s earlier films and it was a V-Cinema (direct-to-video) feature in his native Japan.
Konnichi wa, Miike-san. We meet again.
For those of you who have followed Iridium Eye, you may have noticed that I wasn’t too kind on the controversial Korean-Japanese director when I critiqued one of his most famous films Ichi the Killer. I knew going into some of his filmography that I was going to deal with some grotesque things. Before anyone comments, I’m aware that he’s done tamer works such as Zebraman and the Ace Attorney movie. I thought I would check out one of his lesser known films to see if it was different compared to that ultraviolent trainwreck.
Well, at least it’s less gory than Ichi the Killer.
Here’s the skinny about Osaka Tough Guys. Two high school students named Eiji Yamada and Makoto Fukunaga are busy one night getting drunk, but they find themselves in the middle of a fight where they save this girl named Keiko Hayama from getting mugged. The next day, their reluctant heroism went punished as the two of them get expelled. Although, they’re able to bribe the faculty into giving them one million yen by threatening to expose their secrets which involve taking bribes, cheating on their wives, and sleeping with their students. They suddenly blow all their money on booze and women. As both Eiji and Makoto try to get more money, they come across a classified ad in a local newspaper (hey, this was made in the 90s or else they’d Google it) for a job that pays luxurious salary. Here’s the problem: The job they both applied for involves being rookie gangsters in the Kinsu Yakuza sect based in the seediest parts of Osaka.
Oh, boy. This premise was so insane. I swear if Beavis and Butthead or the guys from Dumb and Dumber were Japanese and ended up in the Yakuza, you might be close to how these characters operate in this movie. Eiji and Makoto are some of the biggest idiots I’ve ever seen in film history. They couldn’t manage their money if their life depended on it, they are totally clueless, and they’re willing to do embarrassing things in order to keep their jobs in a crime syndicate. I do admit some of the situations they go through to get money are funny at times like trying to sell off their Yakuza badges only to find out that they’re gold plated instead of being real gold. With that being said, some of them are just humiliating like where they have to wear panties at one point in the movie as part of a scam (I can’t make this up to save my life) in a scheme so nauseating and just a big sack of no. This beats out Papillon’s mankini from Buso Renkin or the Milkshake scene in Dodgeball in terms of pure fan disservice. I will say Makoto is the more redeemable character when it comes to his relationship with Keiko and how he vows to protect her despite still being stupid at everything he does.
I do think some of the parody elements about the Yakuza groups did give me a few chuckles. I did think it was funny how the Kinsu sect is in this drab building and how they could barely pay some of their top members including enforcers and bodyguards. Even some of their customers who lent money weren’t even afraid of their debt collector Sabu as they gleefully eat fancy sushi with the money they borrowed from them. I also thought the bad karaoke scene was funny and creative where a character’s singing is so bad, the movie temporally stops with the movie going into a VHS blue screen and when it reboots, the screen is upside down for a few seconds. There were parts in Osaka Tough Guys where I said to myself “Okay, I’ll admit this was kind of funny.”
Those moments were few and far between in the context of the entire film.
While Osaka Tough Guys doesn’t have the grotesque ultraviolence like Ichi the Killer, they have ramped it up with so much sexual content and sexism that I just shook my head. Sure, we have some sick villains in the Asashi sect (a rival gang) who literally run an illegal porn video studio, but some of the characters on the Kinsu sect were just disgusting. Case in point: Kaizo Daimon. He’s in a top position in their gang. When you first see him, he seems like he could be a good sense of comic relief. Later on, my hopes were dashed. Daimon straight up gets laid whenever he can and half of those interactions were COMPLETELY non-consensual. Let’s be honest, Daimon is a rapist, yet this film plays this up for laughs. All the women are either sex objects for the guys and/or damsels in distress. Say what you will about Karen from Ichi the Killer, but at least she can actually defend herself and she even beats up Kakihara even if it was in the confines of a BSDM setting. Seriously, I dare anyone to name one female character who can defend themselves in this movie, let alone remembering anyone not named Keiko. Those elements were just inexcusable for this film.
The cinematography was nothing to write home about. It did feel on the cheaper end in terms of production which reveals it’s V-cinema roots. The effect that really felt cheap was the explosion scene in the ending which used obvious green-screened stock footage once the bomb bursts. The editing is serviceable though. While Osaka Tough Guys wasn’t horrible from a visual standpoint, it didn’t salvage this film enough.
Osaka Tough Guys was just a disgusting mess that should be better left forgotten. There are too many idiotic and/or scumbag protagonists even for a crime film, the acting is mediocre, and the visuals felt cheap more often than not. The rampant sex and the usage of “comedic rape” courtesy of Daimon left a horrible taste in my mouth. Sure, Makoto does have some redeemable qualities in his development and his relationship with Keiko, but that’s not enough to save this dreck of a film. If you must see something from Takashi Miike, then please look elsewhere.
Adjustable Point System:
Add 2 points if you’re a hardcore Miike fan
Add 1 point if you like crime film parodies
-Satirizing Yakuza groups underpaying their junior gangsters
-Makoto’s character development
-Eiji and Makoto bribing the teachers (they did deserve it though)
-The dynamite not killing off the person who held it (guess who had it?)
-Sexual assault/harassment/rape as comedy
Final Score: 1/10 points
Content Warning: This is a Takashi Miike film. Most of his stuff would give Quentin Tarantino douche chills. There’s some blood and violence, but that would be PG-13 in other movies in isolation. The language is extremely vulgar and there’s so much sexual content including some nudity, sexual assault, and some deviance going on that is only a few steps before going into adult video territory. Osaka Tough Guys would get a very hard R or an NC-17 if this got a regular rating.
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