Japanese Drug Movies

Monday, April 25 by Annette Smith

This list of Japanese drug movies represents some of the best-known movies about Japan’s drug trade and gangster underworld. Boasting some of Japan’s most talented writers, directors, and actors, here are seven Japanese drug movies to explore. They are arranged alphabetically by title.

  1. “Bloody Territories.” “Bloody Territories,” originally titled “Kôiki bôryoku: ryuuketsu no shima,” is a 1969 Japanese film. Set against Tokyo’s gangster underworld, the movie centers on a small clan and their campaign to take over the city’s drug, prostitution, and gambling rackets. Akira Kobayashi, Ryoji Hayama, and Tadao Nakamaru star in the film.
  2. “The City Of Lost Souls.” “The City Of Lost Souls” is a 2000 crime drama. This Japanese drug movie features gangster violence and Japanese-Brazilian and Chinese key characters. One scene has someone brushing his teeth with cocaine. Teah, Michelle Reis, and Kôji Kikkawa star in the film. 
  3. “Graveyard Of Honor.” “Graveyard Of Honor,” originally titled “Shin jingi no hakaba,” is a 2002 action thriller about a barkeeper who saves the life of a crime boss to advance in the organization. The movie documents the downward spiral of a man who will do anything to survive in the Japanese underworld of drugs, prostitution, and murder. Narimi Arimori, Yoshiyuki Daichi, and Hirotarô Honda star in this award-winning movie.
  4. “Junk Food.” “Junk Food,” originally titled “Janku fudo,” is a 1997 Japanese crime drama. The meandering tale visits the night lives of several hedonistic characters, whose activities range from drug addiction and prostitution to crime and violence. Written and directed by Masashi Yamamoto, the film stars Miyuki Îjima, Miki Mia, and Keigo Naruse.
  5. “Ley Lines.” “Ley Lines” is part of a Japanese movie trilogy titled “Nihon kuroshakai.”  The award-winning movie finds racial bigotry at the heart of Japanese government and society. Starring Shô Aikawa, Samuel Pop Aning, and Yukie Itou, this 1999 crime thriller paints a shocking picture of drugs, sex, and violence at the fringes of Japanese society.
  6. “Red Angel.” “Red Angel,” originally titled “Akai tenshi,” is a 1966 Japanese drama set in the late 1930s. The movie follows a young army nurse sent to field hospitals during the Sino-Japanese war. Assigned to assist a surgeon with amputations, she offers some of the dying soldiers compassion, including sexual services. The doctor is her real love, although he is impotent from a drug addiction. Ayako Wakao, Shinsuke Ashida, and Yûsuke Kawazu star in this legendary Japanese film.
  7. “The Setting Sun.” “The Setting Sun,” originally titled “Rakuyô,” is a 1992 drama starring Masaya Katô, Diane Lane, Biao Yuen, and Donald Sutherland. The story centers on a Japanese soldier forced to question his alliances when he falls in love with the rebel movement’s leader. The film makes reference to a Japanese puppet government, the Chinese mafia, and Manchuria’s illicit drug trade.

-Annette Smith

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