Fighting Disposition (1958)
Directed by Masahiro Makino

Fighting Disposition
Kenka gasa
Starring Hashizo Okawa (Eijiro), Ryutaro Otomo (Jirocho), Ryunosuke Tsukigata (Boss Eigiro), Keiko Okawa (Kiyo), Shunji Sakai (Hanji), Eitaro Shindo (Kurokoma), Kenji Susukida

Toei Company, 84 minutes
Color, 2.35:1 scope ratio
English-subtitled DVD: Kurotokagi Gumi, Samurai DVD (TV broadcast quality)

Fighting Disposition is a nice little ninkyo-eiga adventure featuring the legendary Jirocho, Ishimatsu and the rest of the Shimizu crew as supporting players. After a run-in with some drunk and disorderly officials at a kabuki performance, Young Boss Eijiro of the Omaeda yakuza gang has to go on the lam and stay with another boss. His father, Boss Eigiro, says he wants Eijiro to cool his violent temper and learn how to deal with conflict in a more sophisticated manner.

The boss's ulterior motive is that he wants Eijiro to get to know Kiyo, the daughter of his fellow boss Ebiya. The two bosses have been planning for Eijiro and Kiyo to marry someday and make Eijiro the heir of Ebiya's territory. Since Ebiya is getting old and ready to retire, he has asked their mutual friend Boss Jirocho to manage his gambling enterprises until Kiyo gets married.

After tangling with a pickpocket named Hanji, Eijiro arrives at Boss Ebiya's house penniless and starving. The young boss meets up with Kiyo without knowing who she is. He asks the girl if it's true that Boss Ebiya has a beautiful daughter, and she replies that she doesn't think Kiyo is beautiful: "She's plain, like me." After learning who she is, Eijiro teasingly calls Kiyo "plain" thereafter. The two squabble when Eijiro goes gambling with the allowance money her father has given him after the boss asked him not to. But there's a tragic consequence: while Eijiro is out on the town, the reviled gangster Stuttering Yasu breaks into Ebiya's home and kills the boss, aiming to take over his territory.

Eijiro and Jirocho each vow separately to take vengeance against Yasu. Along the way, Eijiro crosses paths with the pickpocket Hanji and defends him from a group of ronin. Ishimatsu comes along during the fight and helps out the young boss. Eijiro has no idea who Ishi is, and the one-eyed warrior slyly refuses to identify himself, making fun of Eijiro's naivete for not knowing him. This Ishimatsu is a more laid-back and jovial portrayal that we typically find in Jirocho movies, with a self-deprecating style of freely calling himself an idiot instead of taking offense at the characterization.

With help from Hanji, Eijro meets up with Jirocho and they clash over who is going to avenge Boss Ebiya. Yakuza pride being what it is, each wants to handle the matter himself and tries to make the other guy stand aside. Eijiro and Jirocho even draw swords and comes to blows before the young lord agrees to yield to his elder. But Eijiro doesn't just go away. He comes up with a clever plan for taking revenge against Stuttering Yasu in a legal way so that none of them will be held as criminals, learning a lesson about how great yakuza rely on their wits as well as their swords.

In 1962, Masahiro Makino recycled the same screenplay in an inferior remake called A Revengeful Raid.

The Jidai-Geki Knights