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Over the years, acquaintances of mine have boasted of their brushes with local gangsters. But few, I would wager, have become pals with one. Yakuza and katagi (straight citizens) tend to move in separate circles, with the former often viewing the latter as sheep to be fleeced or chickens to be plucked.

But in Shotaro Kobayashi’s brilliant buddy comedy “Hamon: Yakuza Boogie,” the slacker hero (Yu Yokoyama) becomes the unwilling, constantly whining side-kick to a hard-core gangster (Kuranosuke Sasaki) who regards him as unreliable and generally contemptible.

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