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
Cult director Seijun Suzuki's stylish gangster classic. Gunman Hanada Goro is ranked No 3 killer in the Tokyo underworld, but when he accepts a new job from the beautiful mystery woman Misako it signals the beginning of the end for his illustrious career. Hanada bungles the job - a butterfly lands on his rifle sights just as he was about to take aim - and according to the strict rules under which the assassins operate, this is not something which can go unpunished. Thus Hanada finds himself entering into a deadly conflict with the legendary No.1 killer, the assassin sent to avenge Hanada's fatal error.