Hong Kong Digital is sponsored by Poker Industries. Please see the Hong Kong Digital home page for a special offer from Poker Industries to Hong Kong Digital readers.

Issue #113 HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES June 24th, 2002

Gonin 2
(1996; Shochiku / Satellite Cinema / Eiseigekijo Co. / M.M.I.)

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Arriving home one evening with his wife, Yoko (DEATH OF HONOR's Yumi Takigawa), elderly steel mill owner Toyama (the great Ken Ogata) finds that his home has been invaded by Goseikai yakuza lieutenant Aihara (Toshiyuki Nagashima) and his thugs. Behind on his payments to them, Toyama can only watch helplessly as Yoko is gang raped. Unable to deal with the humiliation, the woman later hangs herself. Forging himself a sword, Toyama proceeds to kill several of the men but is unable to learn the whereabouts of Aihara. Meanwhile, at the jewellery shop where Toyama and Yoko had been shopping the night before, a robbery is in progress. The bandits are foiled but, surprisingly enough, the women who do it grab the criminals' ski masks and make off with the loot themselves. Toyama arrives on the scene just after the fact and recognizes one of the foiled men as an associate of Aihara. While on his way to finish off the rest of his targets, Toyama inadvertently learns of where the women are splitting up the loot, and heads there, but the Goseikai soon crash the party.

For the follow-up to his 1995 hit, writer/director Takashi Ishii switches "the five" from men to women (Yo Kimiko, Mai Kitajima, Yui Natsukawa, Yumi Nishiyama, and Shinobu Otake) and, while the characters are perhaps not as indelible, the actresses are effective and we do grow more interested in their backgrounds as the movie progresses. The group's changing allegiances and the ever-shifting storyline (which, like the original, seems deceptively simple at first) keep one guessing, while Ishii dazzles us with exceptional imagery, ranging from shocking (the expected genre carnage) to poetic (a midnight swim in a spacious pool) to amusingly crass (a none-too-subtle John Woo homage with pigeons instead of doves). The director's years in manga are evident once again, with the characters periodically spread out in some wonderfully cluttered, panel-like compositions, and the de rigueur nudity is also right out of this world (one of the heroines brutally dispatches her captor and then showers the blood off her naked body using a handy kitchen sink attachment). The intensity of the first film is not always present here but GONIN 2's style and verve allow it to emerge as a worthy follow-up.

Cover art courtesy Tokyo Shock.

Ken Ogata. Image courtesy Tokyo Shock.

Yo Kimiko. Image courtesy Tokyo Shock.
Tokyo Shock/Media Blasters #TSDVD-0205 (U.S.Label)

Dolby Digital 2.0

Sync Sound Japanese and Dubbed English Language Tracks

Optional English Subtitles

10 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With (Tiny) Stills

Letterboxed (1.83:1)

Enhanced for 16:9 Displays

Coded for Region 1 Only

108 Minutes

Contains brutal violence, nudity, sexual violence, and coarse language

DVD menu courtesy Tokyo Shock.


Not Available

The anamorphic image is a bit soft and blacks are uneven. Colors are also not especially dynamic but this may have been by design. Although no 5.1 option is provided, the sound is good, with very distinctively mixed music and a nice atmosphere. The disc defaults to an English dubtrack but the revoicing is insipid and detracts greatly from the picture. Aside from a brief instance of pixellation during one bit of gunplay, the digital compression is competently handled. The translation is good, though the use of "motherfucker" for "bakka" is a bit extreme and an intertitle in the final minutes is left in Japanese. As is more or less standard for Media Blasters, the original end credits have been discarded and replaced with a cheap video generated English crawl. Even more irritating is the fact that the company continues to provide cast/character listings for the English voiceover artists (several of whom are using obvious pseudonyms) but not for the actual cast! The only extras are video promo spots for BLACK ANGEL, SCORE, BLOOD, and ZERO WOMAN RETURNS (identified in the menu graphic merely as ZERO WOMAN) and Ishii's name is actually misspelled on the back cover.

is available at Poker Industries.

Having problems printing this review with Netscape? Go to the File option in the Netscape Task Bar, click the Page Setup from the sub-menu and make sure that in the Page Options listings, the Black Text box is clicked. This should resolve the "no text" printing problem.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2002. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com