TrustMovies had never heard of OUTLAW GANGSTER VIP -- a very popular series of late-1960 era Japanese Yakuza movies directed by Toshio Masuda (who evidently did only the first in this series) and then by Keiichi Ozawa and starring Tetsuya Watari, all three of whom now hold a firm place in TM's personal film canon -- until he read one of those lengthy articles in one of our better film magazines about the directors and the actor they helped make famous. (I've just spent more than an hour online, trying to look up which magazine this was -- either Cineaste, Film Comment or CinemaScope -- with no luck. So I can't give proper credit here, but I'd like to thank the unfortunately anonymous author of the article, anyway.)
Clint Eastwood -- ultra-low-key, handsome, strong, and bent on doing the right thing. But so much better, acting-wise, is Watari than Eastwood that comparisons soon wobble and topple. This guy is the real thing, and directors Masuda and Ozawa, via their (and their several screenwriters') understanding of both film technique and the most important social concerns of the day (they're still the most important) turn their star into the kind of icon whose light shines and lasts. Watari does not simply embody cliches, as Eastwood has long done, he brings them to alternately roaring and moving life.
Arrow Video, this six-disc set -- in Blu-ray (as usual with Arrow, this is a stunningly produced transfer) and DVD -- hits the street this coming Tuesday, April 19, for purchase and (one hopes) rental, from both the MVD Entertainment Group and Amazon. Click any/all of the above links for further information.