Directed by Teruo Ishii
Written by Teruo Ishii and Ichirô Miyagawa
Cast: Shigeru Amachi,Yôko Mihara,Utako Mitsuya,Yûzô Harumi and Hiroaki Kurahashi.
A journalist famed for a murder must expose now the organization which framed him to clear up his name.
Black Line released a year before the film Sexy Line. It shares a lot with Sexy Line. The same director directed the two films. The general premise of the two films is pretty much the same. A lone man searches for the truth to clear up his name after being framed by some seedy organization. Yet, the films in spite of their vast similarities are unmistakably different. After watching both films, comparisons are inevitable.
Black Line, unlike the fun-loving Sexy Line, is unadulteratedly hard boiled. Sexy Line sought to underplay the somberness of a film noir with its fun raunchiness . Black Line, on the other hand, revels in the natural somberness of a film noir. Black Line doesn’t really fall into the camp of being overly depressing. It’s too kinetic and driven strongly by a sense of what’s right and wrong. There is little to no moral ambiguity here. Black Line’s entire story is about bringing justice to light. Clues are scattered well enough to keep the mystery going strong. Though, the villains lurk in the shadows for much of the narrative. The villain’s nerve-wracking presence is never in question.
Black Line exposes the questionable trade in it in a much more indignant manner by connecting it with the drug trade. Sexy Line was rather blasé about the whole thing. It’s probably best personified in each of the respective protagonists. Hiroshi is clueless about the world around him, while Koji is a hero closer to the tradition of being ”hard boiled”. Black Line may the follows the beats too closely of a typical film noir to be more than anything predictable. Yet, the end journey feels no less rewarding.
We get see Koji working within both sides of the law which makes his predicament all the more interesting. Koji working to outsmart both the police and the criminal underworld only further the suspense. And, the most suspenseful being when Koji and Maya are forced to masquerade as a couple. It felt like at any moment Koji and Maya could have been exposed, and really knows how to keep you at the edge of your seat. The way Koji finds his victory may fall too much on the easy side, but it’s a worthy tribute to his profession of being a reporter. Koji is a reporter, so he knows the sheer power of exposure. It’s not fists that carry the day, but bringing the truth to light that does so.
Black Line is a gritty film noir that’s thrilling for its high octane search for justice set against a backdrop of a mesmerizing mystery.