Watch at Home 11.01.2024

Red Peony Gambler

Directed by Kôsaku Yamashita
Film Movement Classics
98 Minutes
Action, Drama, Thriller, Classics, Asian
Not Rated

Wandering female gambler Oryu the Red Peony (Junko Fuji), so known for the tattoo on her shoulder, rambles into town searching for her father’s killer with a wallet left at the crime scene as her only clue. At a card game she meets a kindred spirit, the noble and handsome yakuza Katagiri (Ken Takakura), when they team up to foil a cheating player. As their paths continue to cross she befriends a gang boss and other sundry denizens of the underworld who all join forces to guide her on a blood-soaked quest for vengeance. With its fantastic tropes and charismatic stars this inaugural entry in the Red Peony Gambler series proved an influential watershed of the “chivalrous gangster” genre and was so popular that it spawned multiple sequels.

Director & Cast

  • Director: Kôsaku Yamashita
  • Starring: Junko Fuji
  • Starring: Ken Takakura
  • Starring: Tomisaburô Wakayama
  • Starring: Kyôsuke Machida

Where to Watch




  • "Yamashita's classically constructed script subordinates action to character and makes good use of romantic and comic sub-plots. Yamashita also has a flair for minor characterization that makes each scene rich in emotional detail and gives depth to conventional material."
    John Belton, The Village Voice
  • "[T]he incredible tightness of the script partnered with a strong sense of character, performances, and execution of the visuals make The Red Peony Gambler a brilliant film. Not only is it one of the best ninkyo eiga I’ve seen in the yakuza genre, but it’s a standout film for how it challenges its own tropes in subtle ways."
    Matt Reifschneider, Blood Brothers