A genre insurrectionary in journeyman garb, the Japanese director Kinji Fukasaku (1930-2003) only began to receive international recognition late in his 60-film career: a Rotterdam retro four years ago; a cult sensation with 2000’s teen bloodbath Battle Royale; and the vocal admiration of Quentin Tarantino, who paid loving homage to Fukasaku’s panache for mob choreography with the Crazy 88s sequences in Kill Bill Vol. 1. Fukasaku’s first indie production, If You Were Young: Rage (1970) is one of his best and least typical films. Obscure even by his standards (thought lost for years, it’s newly available from Home Vision, as is 1968’s Blackmail Is My Life), this youth melodrama tackles a perennial Fukasaku theme: the despair and disillusionment of those left behind by warp-speed post-war transformations. Five friends band together to buy a lurid green truck that they christen “Independence No. 1,” but the brief moment of collective optimism is duly crushed by socioeconomic forces. Fukasaku’s thrashing style—jostling, handheld Scope photography with copious freeze-frames, immoderate zooms, and scrambled film stocks—was often in service of splatterrific yakuza pulp, but as Rage demonstrates, it’s no less effective capturing the toxic fury and frustrations of a thwarted young adulthood.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 13, 2004