“Like a Rolling Stone” is yet another entry in the ranks of the already overpopulated Japanese yakuza film repertoire. The solid performances are not as overly dramatic as is often the case in the genre, but the film is disjointed and confusing, with little in the way of plot advancement. Pic will likely do moderately well in Japan based on the fame of lead actor Eiji Okuda and director Tatsumi Kumashiro, who made his reputation with soft-porn pix.
The film is about Tanaka (played well by Okuda), a drug-dealing, chain-smoking, knife-wielding, scar-riddled lackey for the big crime boss. He spends much of his time purposely getting stabbed or injured to prove his loyalty to his boss and get out of other, bigger confrontations. One of the more gruesome but interesting scenes is several minutes of silence while he sews a huge knife gash on his stomach.
The rest of his time is devoted to women. Helmer’s soft-porn background is put to good use in the love scenes, which include man-girl, man-woman and woman-girl combos. Perhaps the film’s most entertaining quirk does not appear till it’s almost over: One of the mistresses reveals a predilection for Tanaka’s scars, and he discovers that he can bring her to orgasm just by telling about his battle wounds.
Pic’s apparent philosophy is summed up by Tanaka:”Women are evil. Men only kill.”
A few interesting moments and clean technical credits make the film acceptable but cannot overcome the shortcomings in plot.