Afraid to Die (1960)

64% – Audience

Afraid to Die Storyline

Takeo is a young yakuza who renounces his former criminal activities after being released from prison. But sometimes escaping the past is not so easy.

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Afraid to Die Movie Reviews

A pretty ordinary gangster film that espouses a rape myth…

Yukio Mishima was a very unusual man–and you might find it interesting reading more about his real-life exploits. The story is anything but dull. The same, however, cannot be said about “Afraid to Die”–a decent yakuza film but one that seemed amazingly ordinary (aside from a part of the story I’ll talk about below).

This movie begins with a botched assassination. It seems one mob boss wanted revenge on Mishima but his assassin accidentally got the wrong guy. For the rest of this movie, Mishima hides out from his rival until the abrupt ending. In the interim, Mishima’s character broods A LOT, schemes and even rapes a lady. This rape really troubled me, as right after attacking her, he ‘shows his vulnerable side’ and she falls in love with him. And throughout the rest of the film he mostly treats her like trash…and she slavishly follows–even when he does the most abominable things to her. Although the film is technically decent, it just seemed pretty grotesque because of this whole rape me/love me story line. See it for yourself and see what you think.

Okay, but kind of generic

Afraid to Die, one of the four Yasuzo Masumura films that Fantoma has recently released on DVD, contains several examples of the directorial mastery of the same man who directed Giants and Toys and Bind Beast – in fact, the entire film is skillfully directed – but the script is terribly dull. Also working against the film is Yukio Mishima. He was the original draw for the film. He was a famous novelist at the time, probably the most famous in Japan, and his fans desperately wanted to see him in a film. Unfortunately, he’s not a very good actor. I guess his poor performance is just as well blamed on the script, though. His character fluctuates a lot. We’re supposed to like him, or at least sympathize with him, but that’s not really possible. He’s a pure scumbag. Afraid to Die is worth watching. It’s not very long, and, like I said above, there are a couple of great scenes. One particular death scene is alone worth the price of a rental, if you’re lucky enough to find it on your local video shelf. If you’re thinking about buying any of Fantoma’s Masumura DVDs, this one’s not really worth it. Definitely buy Giants and Toys and Blind Beast. I haven’t yet seen Manji. I did order it, though, so by the time you read this I could have already posted a review. Check it out. For Afraid to Die: 7/10.

Solid yakuza film

Novelist Yukio Mishima stars as the hired gun for a down at heel yakuza clan in this top notch action flick. Unlike the previous reviewer, I think Mishima’s performance is excellent, especially for those who go for that brooding James Dean attitude. Karakkaze yarô (Afraid to Die) was superbly shot in brilliant colour by cinematographer Hiroshi Murai (Sword of Doom, Samurai Assassin) and the widescreen Daieiscope process is well utilized by director Yasuzo Masumura. There are some wonderful and memorable set pieces, notably a completely twisted night club scene featuring a naughty song about bananas, and the final scene involving Mishima and an escalator. Well worth a look.