Sequels are usually worse than the films they’re based on since the motivation for making them is often to cash in, not blaze new cinematic trails.

“The Godfather: Part II” is a notable exception to that rule and so is “Last of the Wolves,” Kazuya Shiraishi’s hardboiled follow-up to his 2018 actioner, “The Blood of Wolves.” That old-school cops-versus-gangsters film won a long list of awards, including best actor prizes for star Koji Yakusho, playing Shogo “Gami” Ogami, a scruffy Hiroshima detective who gets results by chucking out the rule book.

Based on Yuko Yuzuki’s 2015 novel, the new film begins in 1991, three years after “The Blood of Wolves.” This time the protagonist is Shuichi Hioka (Tori Matsuzaka), who was once Gami’s straight-arrow protege but has since adopted his deceased mentor’s maverick persona. He is bent on carrying out his predecessor’s plan to keep the peace between once-warring Odani and Itako gangs.