This is one of the early B-movies that Seijun Suzuki made for Nikkatsu studios before he found his stylistic feet with Youth of the Beast in 1963. A rebellious youth tale, it portrays the head-on collision between traditional and modern Japan as young orphan Sadao is revealed to be the long-lost heir to the respectable Matsudaira clan. Sadao accepts to move from the house he shares with a gang of orphans in Kobe to Awaji Island in the hope that he will meet his mother. Once there Sadao shocks the elder with his joyous lack of respect for the staid rituals and hierarchy of the clan and soon has the venerable house of his grand-mother shaking to the sounds of rock’n’roll.
Sadao is less the delinquent suggested by the title than a pretty decent young man and he uses his new-found power and money to transform the island to benefit all people. To succeed in his project he has to fight the ruthless face of capitalism represented by an unscrupulous gangster who wants to turn the island into a lucrative amusement park. In the struggle against greed old and young find a common ground and deeply-rooted class prejudices are overcome in a happy, festive finale.
Although this is Suzuki-lite, Fighting Delinquents already displays some of the director’s typical stylistic flourishes as when a scene of dramatic revelation turns into a series of coloured pop art vignettes. Shows and performances punctuate the action, from a traditional puppet theatre to bikini-clad nightclub dancers and a fantastically kitsch number sung by an unlikely throaty-voiced pop chanteuse. The master colourist of Tokyo Drifter and the eccentric iconoclast of Branded to Kill are already visible here and there is a lot of fun to be had from this exuberant, pastel-coloured retro lollipop. One for Suzuki completists or amateurs of sixties Japanese camp.
Also released as part of Yume Pictures’ Suzuki collection is The Flowers and the Angry Waves, a period yakuza drama set in 19th-century Tokyo.