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Film / Yakuza Graveyard

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Yakuza Graveyard is a 1976 Yakuza film directed by Kinji Fukasaku.

Detective Kuroiwa is a loose cannon cop on the edge, who doesn't pla-ay by the rules. He beats suspects, threatens to plant evidence, brawls casually, has a violent temper, and even drives his fist into his palm in front of his superiors when they chew him out. This man is the epitome of a Cowboy Cop.

Of course, he's also a complete mess of a human being.

Strongly implied to be the product of prejudice (the neighborhood kids would beat him up for being raised in Manchuria, despite being pureblooded Japanese), Kuroiwa drinks like a fish, is usually in conflict with his superiors, and is in a dead-end relationship with a prostitute whose lover he killed in the line of duty.

Having spent some time Reassigned to Antarctica over said killing, Kuroiwa is tranferred back to the big city just as a Mob War breaks out between some big fish and some little fish. The police are backing the big fish, but Kuroiwa starts to become friendly with the little fish. It starts small enough, with a Pet the Dog moment for a young gangster, which the boy's superior, Iwata, takes note of. Iwata and Kuroiwa eventually bond over their shared racial troubles and love of fighting, and Kuroiwa becomes increasingly involved in gang activity, even getting a Yakuza Love Interest. But as the war heats up, and as his superiors at the department start to turn on him, Kuroiwa begins to see himself as a gangster instead of a cop.


Yakuza Graveyard provides examples of:

  • All the Other Reindeer: Kuroiwa's Freudian Excuse
  • The Alcoholic: Kuroiwa.
  • Cowboy Cop: Deconstructed.
    • "You're the wildest, stupidest cop I've ever met."
  • Da Chief: They're all corrupt.
  • Downer Ending: Kuroiwa is forced by truth serum to give up Iwata, leading to his death. Shunned by the Yakuza, he walks into headquarters and demands that his Chief confess to his corruption, gunning him down when he refuses. He turns, walks out of the police station, gets within sight of Keiko, then his old friend runs out after him and kills him when he refuses to stop
  • Freudian Excuse: Kuroiwa was bullied for having grown up in Manchuria. He became a cop to get tougher.
  • Going Native
  • Gray and Grey Morality: The police are running a illegal loan operation, and are willing to take sides in a Mob War. The Yakuza, despite the occasional man of honor, are still Yakuza.
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  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Kuroiwa has anger issues sober, and when drunk he'll fight anybody, even if he's outnumbered or the guy is just a cop telling him to turn his music down.
  • Heroic Bloodshed
  • Honor Before Reason: Kuroiwa never denies betraying Iwata, even though it's not reasonably his fault.
    • Kuroiwa seems to feel he owes some debt to the prostitute whose lover he killed in the line of duty, even though she's a mooching, cheating b——.
  • Kids Are Cruel: See Freudian Excuse.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident:Rather, an Attempted Escape.
  • Mob War
  • One Last Smoke: Kuroiwa gestures for one.
  • Pet the Dog: One of Iwata's underlings, having been beaten up by Kuroiwa earlier in the film, ambushes him, getting beaten up again for his trouble. Kuroiwa, after seeing the troubled relationship between him and his mother, decides to let him go.
  • Shaky Cam: How the gunfights are shot, reflecting the panic and confusion of the participants.
  • Stop, or I Will Shoot!: Kuroiwa's shooting incident, two years before the film. Also, Kuroiwa himself, having just gunned down a police chief in the middle of headquarters
    • These both could be Justified, depending on what the law was in 1970's Japan.
  • True Companions: Iwata's circle.
  • Truth Serums: Kuroiwa is injected with one.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Kuroiwa's superiors suspend him after confronting him with his Yakuza ties. See below.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Kuroiwa superiors, corrupt as they are, denounce him for getting so involved with Yakuza, and for his other less-than-upstanding moments. However, it's quite clear that whatever moral indignation they have, they are also acting out of self-interest: they're worried about public shame, and they supporting the rival gang.
  • Yakuza


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