Continued my long overdue Kanopy binge with a screening of Cops vs. Thugs. Director Kinji Fukasaku—who also helmed Battles Without Honor and Humanity, Samurai Reincarnation, and Battle Royale (probably his magnum opus)—was a true artist of exploitation cinema, and this 1975 crime thriller is yet another B-movie masterpiece in a body of work bursting at the seams with them. Like many yakuza flicks, it taps into postwar anxieties, crafting a morally-twisted setting in which corruption is an inescapable fact of life. There isn’t a clean officer on the entire police force; the only difference between the “good” cops and the “bad” ones is whether they’re in bed with the local gangsters… or in the pockets of crooked politicians and businessmen (which is which is a matter of personal opinion, of course, though Fukasaku makes his own stance abundantly clear). Starring Bunta Sugawara at his absolute coolest and featuring the funkiest soundtrack you’ll ever hear, this brutally violent and soul-crushingly pessimistic film is a definite must-see for genre fans.
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