The Curator of Schlock by Jeff Shuster

Shinjuku Triad Society

Violence and more violence.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound? This question has bothered philosophers for hundreds of years. I propose another philosophical question: if you’re driving a Mack truck and run a station wagon off the road because you couldn’t see it when you were changing lanes, does it really count as vehicular manslaughter, if there are no witnesses, hypothetically?

Tonight’s Arrow Home Video release is 1995’s Shinjuku Triad Society from director Takashi Miike. This is a very violent movie filled with female prostitution, male prostitution, shooting, slicing, drug use, organ harvesting, and brotherly love. I know what you’re thinking, “Yes, but what is Shinjuku Triad Society about?” Well, it’s about a Triad Society situated in Shinjuku, Japan.

Oh, you want more?

Okay. So there are Triads operating in Japan that have come over to the country from Taiwan. Our main character is Tatushito (Kippei Shiina), a rogue police detective that kicks ass and takes names. He’s also half Taiwanese and half Japanese, a factor that made him a bit of an outsider in Taiwan. In fact, Tatushito reminisces about how he and his younger brother were thrown in a pig pen every time a robbery happened in their small town in Taiwan. The people there still had resentment toward the Japanese over World War II.

Tatushito is busy hunting for Wang Zhi-Ming (Tomorowo Taguchi), the leader of the Dragon Claw (which is the name of a Triad outfit). Wang is suspected of the murder of a night patrolman. Seems the poor guy was slashed in the neck and wrist, blood was spraying everywhere. It actually wasn’t Wang, but one of the male prostitutes in his employ who was a bit on the psychotic side. Not that Wang is that well-balanced either. During a negotiation with another gang, he crushes a glass of bourbon in his hand to show how badass his is, but really, those glass fibers are going to get all in your palm.

Of course, the big shocker is that Tatushito’s younger brother Yoshihito is working for the Triad gang. He’s set up an organ harvesting operation where he steals kidneys and other expensive organs from new immigrants in Japan fresh from Taiwan. That’s messed up. The police examined some eight year-old with a nasty scar on his side from where the kidney was removed. Tatushito feels he is his brother’s keeper and is under pressure from his parents to look out for Yoshihito. His younger brother wants to be a hardcore criminal and warns Tatushito to stay out of his affairs.

Some violence follows. Wang takes out the Triad leadership in bloody fashion. I think he murders his own father. Tatushito confronts his brother and manages to beat him into submission and send him on a bullet train down to his parents. Tatushito then hunts down Wang and executes him which is against police procedure in Japan, but they can’t pin it on Tatushito and he gets a raise and promotion. Apparently, this is part one of a trilogy known as the Black Society trilogy. These are available in a fancy set from Arrow Video, complete with audio commentaries and other special features, if you are into that sort of thing.

Until next time.


Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444, and episode 450) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.