Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Afraid to Die (1960)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Afraid to Die (1960, Jp.) (aka Karakkaze Yarô)

In Yasuzô Masumura's garish, off-beat, yakuza crime drama about a man's inability to escape from his criminal underworld past in the real-world:

  • the main character was black leather-clad yakuza gang leader Takeo Asahina (Yukio Mishima); he was in prison serving a three-year term for knifing rival gang leader Yusaku Sagara (Jun Negami) in the leg; he had already served 2 years and seven months and was about to be released
  • in the film's opening, a bungled assassination attempt was made on inmate Takeo Asahina in the Tokyo prison; the hit man Handa hired by Yusaku Sagara shot and killed a substitute prisoner, not Asahina ("This isn't him at all!")
  • once released from prison, Asahina attempted to give up his former life - his leadership of a yakuza gang, and his relationship with cabaret nightclub singer-girlfriend Masako Katori (Yoshie Mizutani) - who had a memorable pre-breakup scene; she sang a naughty song about bananas: ("It's long and round, the banana, Throw it or eat it, with the skin on. One day a little girl she ate a banana, but all it did was give her a pain in the belly, Wow, yeah! How I love them bananas! Yeah, yeah! Wow, wow! Ain't it just the slipperiest thing? So many bananas down in the port. The girls run away, oh, they're scared! But one girl was too slow, had to eat all the bananas. Black, slippery, round, long, and thick, and they give you a pain in the belly"); after dumping her, Asahina revealed his misogyny: "My first loyalty is to myself, women are just toys"
  • the stern (and prophetic!) advice of Asahina's elderly, white-haired, old-style tattooed yakuza uncle Gohei Hirayama (Takashi Shimura) was to go after his rival - yakuza boss Sagara; after slapping his nephew, uncle Gohei tossed him a gun and urged: "You little fool! First you go after him...Kill Sagara, the rest falls into place....In our world the only thing that counts is who dies first"
  • Asahina violently slapped and raped theater cashier Yoshie Koizumi (Ayako Wakao) - and afterwards awkwardly apologized: ("Sorry, kid. Forgive me. It's just that I really like you...I'm serious. I've had plenty of women, but they've all been after my money. But you're not, you're different. That's what I like about you...You were right about me being a jerk, but I'm not evil")
  • afterwards, Asahina caused her to become pregnant and beat her when she refused an abortion, although she became more determined to be with him as a result
  • in the impressive ending scene, the hero experienced a noble but doomed death - the father-to-be was purchasing "special" baby clothes in a crowded marketplace for his expected baby, when asthmatic hit-man Masa (Shigeru Kôyama) from Hokkaido came up behind him and stuck a gun in his back; as Asahina spoke his final words, "I never expected this..."; he was shot and lethally wounded, and then stumbled and fell onto a moving up-escalator - metaphorically, he struggled to climb downwards, but eventually collapsed and was transported upwards to the top of the stairway, with the gift still clutched in his right hand
Asahina's Escalator Death Sequence

Hit Man Handa's Bungled Assassination Attempt on Takeo Asahina

Cabaret Nightclub Singer-Girlfriend Masako Katori

Advice for Nephew Asahina from His Uncle Gohei Hirayama

Asahina With Yoshie


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