Another Criterion yakuza classic from 1966.
Tetsuya “Phoenix Tetsu” Hondo is a member of a recently deactivated Yakuza gang. His boss, to whom he holds absolute loyalty, Kurata, has given up the life of crime for himself and his syndicate. Otsuka, a rival gang boss, attempts to recruit Tetsu into his organization, but is turned down. After failing, Otsuka sends an assassin to neutralize Tetsu, fearing he will interfere with a real estate scam. Looking to profit from the scheme himself and fearing that his group is threatened by his presence, Kurata asks Tetsu to leave and live the life of a drifter.
Otsuka and Kurata join forces, and assign the successful hitman, “Viper” Tatsuzo, to kill Tetsu. Tetsu evades Viper and his hit squad a number of times and arrives at the establishment of Umetani, an ally of boss Kurata. Tetsu returns to Tokyo, confronting his boss who betrayed him. He kills everyone in the room besides his boss and former girlfriend. At the end of the movie, Kurata kills himself, and Tetsu refuses his former girlfriend Chiharu’s plea to accompany him on his travels. He exits down a pure white hallway, explaining that he has a new allegiance to the wanderer lifestyle, and cannot abandon it for the company of another.
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