Cops vs Thugs (1975)
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Cops vs. Thugs
Cops vs. Thugs (県警対組織暴力, Kenkei tai Soshiki Bōryoku, lit. "Police vs. Violence Groups") is a 1975 Japanese yakuza film directed by Kinji Fukasaku. It won two Blue Ribbon Awards in 1976: Best Director (Fukasaku) and Best Actor (Sugawara). Complex named it number 6 on their list of The 25 Best Yakuza Movies. Kino International released the film on DVD in North America in 2006.
In the year 1963, in the fictional Kurashima City, two yakuza gangs - the originally Osaka-based Kawade under Kasumi Kawade, who use political connections in local assemblyman and ex-yakuza boss Masaichi Tomoayasu to further their activities, and the Ohara, under acting boss Kenji Hirotani, who have an alliance with the local police - are battling for local supremacy.
After Ohara men raid one of Tomoyasu's bars (for a hostess who worked for Hirotani before changing patrons) and after helping in assigning the blame on a selected Ohara member, Detective Tokomatsu Kuno has a low-level Kawade soilder arrested on a blackmail charge and obtains information on an upcoming land deal involving the Kawade and Tomoyasu, which he reveals to Hirotani: Sanyo Industries, a local company going bankrupt, is planning on selling off land for in an auction. Another local company, Nikko Oil plans to buy it for commercial reasons, but is facing objections with the local fishing community due to the potential pollution problem. Tomoyasu and Kawade, both having connections with Nikko Oil, plan to intervene, ostensibly buying it to develop it into an amusement park, and also plan to pay off the other bidders with a ¥5,000,000 kickback. Kuno and Hirotani then successfully threaten one of Kawade's prostitute who has been blackmailing a policeman into revealing Kawade's plot. The auction is put on hold, Sanyo Industries gains its property back and hands it over it Hirotani to put it for sale. Hirotani then attempts (and fails) to sell it to Nikko Oil CEO Kubo for ¥500,000,000, or with the further threat to expose their activities.
Later, after a night spent at Hirotani's bar, Kuno and Hirotani reminisce on their first meeting: it is revealed that Kuno had shielded after Hirotani completed a successful hit on a rival crime boss seven years earlier. Elsewhere, Ohara members and their police friends get into a fight with a truck driver, who is revealed to have been working for Kawade, who uses this a pretext for an all-out gang war against Hirotani.
With the war in full swing, Kawade, Tomoyasu, and Kubo's influence with Police Commissioner Kikkuchi has crusading Lieutenant Shoichi Kaida is assigned to lead the crackdown against the Ohara. Kaida sets about ordering the officers - Kuno included - to stop fraternizing with the yakuza, and makes his pint by smashing bottles of sake Hirotani had sent to them one night. Yoshihura, one of the officers under Tomoyasu's payroll, gets into a fight with Kaida, resigns, and joins Tomoyasu's law office.
Boss Ohara is later released after the end of his prison sentence. Elsewhere, Hirotani is angered with Kuno when he and his men are no longer being tipped off on upcoming police raids, while he cannot support the mortgage he put up for the land deal. After a raid at Ohara family headquarters, Boss Ohara is taken in for questioning, and under the advice of Tomoyasu (his sworn brother from years before), agrees to retire permanently, disband his family, and surrender all his assets to Boss Kawade. Kuno meanwhile is suspended after getting into an argument with Kaida after arresting one of Hirotani's men (that the former had met at the film's beginning), who believes Kuno had sold him out. As a result of all this, Hirotani and his remaining men, kidnap Yoshihura and hold him hostage at the Hotel Wakaba, just as Hirotani's arrest warrant arrives. The police mobilize and attempt to besiege the hotel, but all attempts to convince Hirotani to surrender are unsuccessful. Kawamoto, a friend of Hirotani's right-hand man Tsukahara, is killed after unsuccessfully asking Tsukahara to negotiate in Hirotani's place.
Kuno is then recalled to defuse the situation, and he manages to infiltrate the hotel, rescue Yoshiura, and subdue Hirotani after the hotel is tear-gassed. Kuno then contacts Kaida and arranges a deal with him in exchange for Hirotani: the Kawade family will be disbanded, Hirotani and Tsukahara will be given light prison sentences, and finally, Kaida will admit that Kuno was right in his earlier assessment of the situation. If he refuses, he will leave and the situation will remain the same, and threaten to expose the corrupt officers in the police force, himself included.
Kaida accepts the deal and Hirotani has his men surrender themselves and their weapons. As his give themselves up, Hirotani asks Kuno to remove his cuffs, and he obliges. After he is led out, Hirotani breaks free and attempts to take Kaida hostage with Tsukahara. After a tense standoff, Kuno pulls out his pistol and shoots Hirotani dead.
An epilogue states that Kaida resigned from the force two years later and took up a position with Nikko Oil. Kuno meanwhile had been transferred to another city as a patrolman. One night after the end of his shift, he comes upon a crashed car at the exit of a tunnel whilst being followed by a truck. When the truck catches up with him and refuses to obey his signals, it runs over and kills him.
- Bunta Sugawara as Tokumatsu Kuno
- Hiroki Matsukata as Kenji Hirotani
- Mikio Narita as Katsumi Kawade
- Tatsuo Umemiya as Shoichi Kaida
- Hideo Murota as Tsukahara
- Shingo Yamashiro as Yasuo Kawamoto
- Reiko Ike as Mariko
- Jukei Fujioka as Ikeda
- Asao Sano as Yusaku Yoshiura
- Nobuo Kaneko as Masaichi Tomoyasu
- Harumi Sone as Kyuichi Okimoto
- Takuzo Kawatani as Taku Matsui
- Tatsuo Endō as Takeo Ohara
- Kunie Tanaka as Kinpachi Komiya
- Toru Abe as Azuma Kikuchi
- Akira Shioji as Chujiro Shiota
- Shotaro Hayashi as Shimodera
- Masaharu Arikawa as Tokuda
- Sanae Nakahara as Reiko
- Yoko Koizumi as Yuri
- Maki Tachibana as Kasumi
- Keiko Yumi as Miya
- Midori Shirai as Chiyomi
- Masako Matsumoto as Mitsuyo
- Gentaro Mori as Tanpo
Tetsuya Watari was originally set to play Hirotani, but had to step down due to illness. The role then went to Hiroki Matsukata.