Today: June 12, 2024

Abashiri Prison I-III

Constructed in the late nineteenth century to house political prisoners, Japan’s infamous Abashiri Prison served as the inspiration for a popular and prolific run of yakuza movies released between 1965 and 1972.

In Abashiri Prison, Ken Takakura stars as Shinichi Tachibana, a yakuza sent to Abashiri as punishment for an attack on a rival gangster. Intending to serve out his time as a model prisoner, everything goes wrong when he’s shackled to the bullish Gonzo Gonda (Kōji Nanbara)unwittingly roped into an escape attempt ,and forced to face the frozen wilderness of Hokkaidō.

In Another Abashiri Prison Story, Tachibana has just been released from jail when he stumbles across a stash of diamonds recently stolen in a heist – and attracts unwanted attention from criminals and cops alike.

Finally, in Abashiri Prison: Saga of Homesickness, Tachibana reunites with his former yakuza associates, who are trying to go straight. That is, at least, until old rivals come looking for trouble …

KenTakakura would reprise the role of Tachibana in seven more films under the Abashiri Prison banner – all of them helmed by Teruo Ishii – before the series was rebooted as ‘New Abashiri Prison’ in 1968. A further eight films followed.  But it all began with these three classic tales of yakuza violence and vengance.

Eureka Entertainment’s Prison Walls: Abashiri Prison I-III presents all three films, for the first time ever on blu-ray from brand new restorations, as part of The Masters of Cinema Series.

Extras include:

  • Limited edition O-card slipcase featuring new artwork by Tony Stella (first print run of 2000 copies only).
  • 1080p HD presentation of all three films from restorations of the original film elements supplied by Toei.
  • Optional English subtitles newly translated for this release.
  • Original Japanese audio (uncompressed LPCM mono).
  • Brand new audio commentary tracks by Tom Mes, Chris Poggiali and Mike Leeder & Arne Venema.
  • Tony Rayns on Abashiri Prison – brand new interview with critic and Asian cinema expert Tony Rayns.
  • Brand new video appreciation by Jasper Sharp and Mark Schilling.
  • Trailers.
  • PLUS: A collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Mark Schilling.

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email:

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