Young Yakuza



CANNES -- A professor of business management might find interest in this drab documentary on the inner workings of the notorious Japanese Mafia, the Yakuza. As engaging as a business chart and as entertaining as a graph, "Young Yakuza" delineates the philosophy and hierarchy of Japanese mob life.

Directed by Jean-Pierre Limosin, the film reveals the organizational structure of the "clan," as the Yakuza itself prefers to call itself. Unfortunately, Limoson's approach is so diffident and dispassionate, that we soon forget the film is, after all, about the mob. Certainly that's understandable given the history of filmmakers who have attempted to make documents about the Yakuza: Two Japanese filmmakers were stabbed when attempting a similar document. It seems unlikely that Limoson should have to worry about such retribution given the colorlessness of this non-expose.

In narrative thrust, Limosin focuses on one young Japanese man, Naoki, a juvenile delinquent and screw-up whose mother is at wits end about what to do with him. Since enlisting in the U.S. Army is not an option, she decides that a tour in the Yakuza might be just the life-changing experience that her incorrigible kid needs. Even Naoki seems to agree and essentially goes for a "job interview" with a Yakuza big-wig. In tone and substance, their meeting resembles an interview for any young unskilled guy applying to an entry-level job. Since he possesses the requisite qualities -- dubious past, little future -- Naoki lands the gig. He then enters a rigid world of rules and group subservience. On the plus side, he seems to bond with many of his "colleagues" and, at first, thrives on the regimen.

In scope, "Young Yakuza" is an intelligent, if non-illuminating, look at an organization: The business professor might conclude that the Yakuza shares similar structural traits of a cult or a para-military unit. The everyday viewer, however, is likely to be bored and somewhat mystified by the relentlessly abstemious lifestyle of young Yakuza. Even the Yakuza high-honchos agree that recruitment is a problem with today's youth, and, like many major corporations and government bodies, they are hampered by the low-level of their applicant pool. End of lecture.

Celluloid Dreams Prods.
Director: Jean-Pierre Limosin
Producers: Hengameh Pahani, Christian Baute
Directors of photography: Julien Hirsch, Celine Bozon
Music: RGM, Xavier Jamaux
Editor: Tina Baz
Running time -- 99 minutes
No MPAA rating
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