Seijun Suzuki's absolutely mad yakuza movie Branded to Kill
bends the hit-man genre so out-of-shape it more resembles a Luis Bunuel take on Martin Scorsese. Number Three killer Goro Hanada (Jo Shishido) is a hired gun who loves his work, but when he misses a target after a mere butterfly sets his carefully balanced aim astray, he becomes the next target of the mob. Goro is no pushover and easily dispatches the first comers, leaving them splayed in death contortions that could qualify for an Olympic event, but the rat-a-tat violence gives way to a surreal, sadistic game of cat and mouse. The legendary Number One mercilessly taunts his target before moving in with him in a macho, testosterone-laden Odd Couple
truce that ends up with them handcuffed together.
Kinky? Not compared to earlier scenes. The smell of boiling rice sets Goro's libido for his mistress so aflame that Suzuki censors the gymnastic sex with animated black bars that come to life in an animated cha-cha. Because Suzuki pushed his yakuza parodies and cinematic surrealism too far, his studio, Nikkatsu, finally called in their own metaphoric hit and fired the director with such force that he was effectively blackballed from the industry for a decade. It took about that long for audiences to embrace his audacious genre bending--Suzuki's pop-art sensibilities were just a bit ahead of their time. --Sean Axmaker, Amazon.com
Seijun Suzuki s delirious 1967 hit-man film has drawn comparisons with contemporaries Le Samourai and Point Blank and influenced directors such as John Woo, Jim Jarmusch and Quentin Tarantino among others.
The story of laconic yakuza Hanada, aka No. 3 Killer , the third rated hit-man in Japan who takes an impossible job from the mysterious, death obsessed Misako. Hanada bungles the hit and finds himself the target of his employers and a bullet ridden journey leads him to face the No. 1 Killer.
Shot in cool monochrome with beguiling visuals, Branded to Kill is an effortlessly cool crime film with a jazzy score that caused Suzuki to be fired by the studio s executives but is now rightly recognised as his masterpiece.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- New High Definition digital transfer
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
- Newly translated English subtitles for both films
- Interview with director Seijun Suzuki
- Interview with star Jo Shishido by critic and author Koshi Ueno
- Trapped in Lust [Aiyoku no wana] (1973) A delirious roman porno re-imagining of Branded to Kill from Atsushi Yamatoya, one of Branded to Kill s screenwriters and Suzuki s regular collaborators
- Original Trailers for Branded to Kill and Trap of Lust
- Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Ian MacEwan
- Booklet by Japanese film expert Jasper Sharp, illustrated with original stills and new artwork by Ian MacEwan