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The Independent Critic

Bunta Sugawara, Tatsuo Umemiya, Hiroki Matsukata, Mikio Narita
Kinji Fukasaku
Kazuo Kasahara
100 Mins.
Arrow Films

 "Cops vs. Thugs" Gets Arrow Blu-ray Treatment 

Cops vs. Thugs is considered by many to be director Kinji Fukasaku's finest film, a memorable film that was made at the height of popularity for Toei Studios' Jitsuroku films - modern crime motion pictures based upon true stories taken out of contemporary headlines. This 1970's classic features Fukasaku reuniting with frequent collaborators including screenwriter Kazuo Kasahara, composer Toshiaki Tsushima, and the film's star, Bunta Sugawara. 

The film takes place in 1963 Kurashima, a southern Japanese city where Detective Kuno (Sugawara) oversees a detente between the warring Kawade and Ohara gangs. Emphasizing personal honor and duty, Kuno knows that the underground has no clear boundaries and the fragile peace becomes interrupted alongside the arrival of an ambitious lieutenant (Tatsuo Umemiya) forcing Kuno to face a painful choice between loyalty to his badge and honoring a promise to his brother. 

Cops vs. Thugs is a good ole' fashioned hardboiled thriller, a film that resonates emotionally while bearing all the trademarks that one has when watching a yakuza film. The film's solid ensemble cast performs quite ably, giving the film an impact both emotionally and intellectually. While likely not a good film for the inexperienced viewer of Japanese yakuza films, those who've become accustomed to the films will find much to enjoy here and will appreciate the usual high quality packaging offered by Arrow films. 

For more information on Cops vs. Thugs, visit the Arrow Films website linked to in the credits. 


  • High Definition digital transfer
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original uncompressed mono audio
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Beyond the Film: Cops vs Thugs, a new video appreciation by Fukasaku biographer Sadao Yamane
  • A new visual essay on cops & criminals in Fukasaku's works by film scholar Tom Mes
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Ian MacEwan

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic