As is often the case, we open with a con getting out of prison. Gunji (Koji Tsuruta) has served ten years for his role in the gang wars on the docks of Yokahama. While he was gone, a corporatized yakuza clan, the Daitokai, moved in, played the smaller local gangs against each other, and eventually took over. He gathers his old cronies together -- each of them is introduced with a vignette showing their miserable civilian lives -- to make a run on the Daitokai, but the war is over almost before it began. Gunji's gang is hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned, and survives to make an honorable withdrawal only because the Daitokai bosses respect Gunji's guts. To avoid bloodshed, they agree to contribute the ridiculously large amount of 5,000,000 yen toward a memorial for Gunji's former gang boss. That money will finance Gunji's next venture, elsewhere.
For the "mainlanders," Okinawa is a doubly alien land. For starters, the natives don't seem to care that much for mainlanders. Secondly, the island is practically the 51st State, supporting a huge American base and servicing its soldiers and their dependence. Most of the signage Fukasaku shows us is in English, and there are lots of American faces, male and female, white and black, on the streets. Ironically, such an Americanized setting serves the same role for Fukasaku that Mexico serves for the makers of American and Italian westerns: a last frontier of outlawry, where a dying generation of outlaws can make a last stand.
The Okinawan opposition: GI gangstas (above) and Tomasaburo Wakayama (the Shogun Assassin himself, below)
The fruits of victory, from swimming pools (above) to women (like Akiko Kudo, below), somehow aren't as sweet as Gunji hoped.
This English-subtitled trailer, featuring plenty of Yamashita's great music, was uploaded to YouTube by pvehling.