Afraid to Die (Japanese: (からっ風野郎, or A Man Blown by the Wind) is a raunchy potboiler of a yakuza movie directed by Yasuzo Masumura and with Yukio Mishima in the lead role.
Mishima's character, yakuza member Takeo, gets out of prison for the attempt of murder of a rival mob boss. He doesn't want to leave the slammer because he feels safer inside. When he gets out, he resolves to kill the man he had maimed before that man finds and kills him. At the same time, he contemplates leaving "the life," as does one of his associates. This associate is dating a pharmacist who wants to move to Osaka and take him with her. She somehow got her hands on a drug for cancer that had been in the trial stage of development. The drug killed three people during testing, and the rival yakuza gang has a box of the stuff, which they plan to use to blackmail the company that developed it.
Takeo is forced by yet another mob boss to make peace with the man he's been trying to snuff out, but there's a lackadaisical asthmatic hit-man, known up north as "Asthma Masa," who has been paid to take out Takeo.
Meanwhile, Takeo shows off his misogynist side (the film portrays yakuza as misogynistic so much so that the film seems misogynistic itself at times), and he tries to trick his girl into taking some German medicine to induce an abortion, telling her it's for morning sickness and will make her feel good.
The end is a bit like Carlito's Way (1993). Takeo in a white suit is determined to leave the yakuza life, and perhaps the misogyny that's suggested as being part and parcel of the role, and so he'll try to get out of the city to care for his girl and their as-yet-to-be-born child.
I've seen lots of better yakuza movies but this one has it's moments. Mishima made a solid effort to play a young punk gangster. I wanted to watch the movie before I read Mishima's novella Star, which has been translated into English and was released in April of this year, and is a fictionalized account of his experience working on the film. More on this in the next blog post . . .