Recently, I found the movie Chi-n-pi-ra online, with no description other than a release year of 1984 and the subject matter being something about yakuza. For me, that was enough to pique my interest, so I gave it  a watch to see what was in store. What I found was an entertaining comedy that, despite a rather thin premise, captures the essence of Japan's pre-bubble economy.

In the film, we see the exploits of two lowly freelance delinquents, Yoichi and Michio, who make their money off of horse race betting and light extortion, while being under the control of more senior yakuza. A member of a family entrusts them with a case of speed which gets compromised, which prevents Michio from becoming a yakuza, thus splitting them apart and straining their relationship. It's a strange premise, definitely not something seen often. 

The characters in this movie feel very realistic. There's never a point in the film where I question any character's motivation or actions. Yoichi and Michio have a great chemistry that shines throughout the whole film, almost as if they're brothers. Despite any crimes they commit, they are still underdogs you can root for.


But of course, the best aspect of this movie to me is all of the on-location shots and style choices that perfectly capture the nightlife of Japan. We get looks at plenty of nightclubs and discos, as well as a plethora of cool Japanese sports cars and outfits. Not to mention, having the lovely Eri Ishida in a supporting role that shows quite a bit of skin. Put simply, this movie is a feast for the eyes of anyone enamored by the style of the decade.

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Is this movie worth watching? I would think so. It can be a little confusing, but the atmosphere and characters still bring a lot to offer. It's flashy and funny, and is totally digestible by any western viewer. There's no official way to watch this movie in English, so any interested party would have trouble finding it easily. So, good luck.

Nov 21 2022

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