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Criterion Collection: Tokyo Drifter [Blu-ray] [1966] [US Import]

3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005ND87L8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 105,904 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By alanf1135 on 19 Mar. 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a gangster film that has replaced all out toughness with pop trash cool and boy it's as smart as it thinks it is.
The plot and even the continuity makes no sense at times but it does not matter, you are sucked in by the fun and bravado of it's director Suzuki Seijun who puts together a film that oozes with style and cool onto a canvas of inovative lighting, sound and music.
He can be the only director who could get away with putting a Western Saloon brawl in a modern day gangster movie and have the hero, a tough hitman, sing the title song throughout the film as if he was in a pop video. He is that good!!
I also liked the contrast between the old and new Japan with it's alternative scences in city and rural settings, the sound track with the mix of traditional and 60's pop, attitudes of the characters, mix of western and traditional japanese cultures, even a mix of traditional cultural practises where Tetsu breaks a wine glass at the end to symobolise to his boss that they are parting company.
This film has had an influence on modern directors, the most recognisable Queintin Tarantino, Steven Speilberg, John Woo and Ridley Scott.
This and Shogun Assasian was a definate influence for Kill Bill Volume 1, if you liked that film you will love this film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Barry HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Mar. 2014
Format: Blu-ray
Tetsuya Watari’s Sixties cult classic “Tokyo Drifter” is only available on ‘BLU RAY’ in the States. But therein lies a problem for UK and European buyers…

The US issue is REGION-A LOCKED - so it WILL NOT PLAY on most UK Blu Ray players unless they're chipped to play 'all' regions (which the vast majority aren't). Don’t confuse BLU RAY players that have multi-region capability on the 'DVD' front – that won’t help.

Until such time as someone on this side of the water gives this 1966 Japanese movie gem a REGION B and C release – check your BLU RAY player has the capacity to play REGION A – before you buy the pricey Criterion issue…
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. M. Gimferrer Quintana on 9 April 2002
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Seijun Suzuki's definitive masterpiece, a unique meld of genre movie, stylistic invention and gruelling extremity that infects your life like no 'noir' this side of Poni Black. A hitman movie that transcend its own cool and burns up your screen ecry time you see it-clearly an inspiration for John Woo and takshi Kitano, but way ahead of either. Absolutely unmissable!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 30 reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
One of the most brilliantly edited films I have seen! 8 July 2000
By Lance Swanson - Published on
Format: DVD
The only reason Seijun Suzuki's "Toky Drifter" is getting four stars instead of five is because the story gets hokey and hard to follow at times. But what a wallop the visual fireworks and rapid-fire, jump-cut editing pack! "Tokyo Drifter" is easy to understand after viewing it a few times, but initially the story takes a back seat to Suzuki's inventive, French-New-Wave style of creating the images, which are breathtaking. "Phoenix," a reformed killer for the Yakuza, dreamily walks around Tokyo after quitting the racket, expecting to be executed. But when he is called back into duty to help rid the city of a rival gang, the film "drifts" into a surreal mix of equal parts Luis Bunuel, Sam Fuller and Jean Luc Godard. The action never lets up, and the film is a wonderfully funny mix of comedy and violence. The performers even break out into song at unexpected times, although the film is certainly not a musical. You just never know what to expect, which is what makes this little-seen film so much fun. "Tokyo Drifter" is unlike any film you have ever seen. It's a true original and Criterion presents it in a widescreen version that is terrific. Contains a rare, insightful interview with Japanese director Seijun Suzuki. In Japanese with English subtitles.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Stylish 21 Aug. 2007
By Yoshi - Published on
Format: DVD
A stylish gangsta piece of work by the great late Seijun Suzuki. If you've watched Kurosawa or Ozu then this is much different. More comparable to Kinju Fukasaki(BATTLE ROYALE). Not as good as BRANDED TO KILL but a fine Criterion piece none the less. A lonely soul gets pulled back into one last score to settle. Visually masterful and the score is brilliant. A little slow at times but the action is pretty much non stop throughout. Plus a big payoff at the end. I know you will be amazed with what you see. Quentin Tarantino may not admit this is one of his inspirations for RESOVOIR DOGS, but when you have the blue room, red room, white room, etc, it's hard not to believe there's some sort of connection there between Mr. White, Blond etc. A must see film if you're a lover of art and crime noir. One of Seijun's top 5 films.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
"Damn him and his singing...." 28 Jan. 2012
By Dr. Morbius - Published on
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
While not as insane a Branded To Kill (Suzuki's masterful yakuza crazy-noir), this one is just enough off-center to be considered not quite normal. The colors are bright and fantastically tantalizing (at least on blu-ray), and the mono sound is ample- love that recurring theme song (sung by the lead character) and the general goofiness which makes this film a masterful must-have for those of you who like their films to make them think (about what I have no idea). Criterion does their usual fantastic job making this one worth an upgrade over their earlier weak effort on dvd. A couple of interviews for extra features round off this necessary addition to any great film library....even if you turn the sound off, the visuals are enough to keep one's interest....this is a very well done film with masterful editing and strange colors that sometimes make it look like an early James Bond film or a Batman episode....great stuff here....
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Stylish, cool and all-out entertaining! Seijun Suzuki's classic gangster film "Tokyo Drifter" was a film ahead of its time! 28 April 2012
By [KNDY] Dennis A. Amith - Published on
Format: DVD
In Japan, what kind of film would ever feature a stoic, cool tough former gangster that can whistle or sing a song while guns are pointed at him?

The answer is "Tokyo Drifter", the 1966 film directed by Seijun Suzuki who has earned a worldwide following of cinema fans due to his experimental visual style, humor and nihilistic coolness that his style of films were ahead of its time.

While we are graced with films with visual style, humor and coolness by Beat Takeshi, Takashi Miike, Kazuaki Kiriya to name a few... Seijun Suzuki was part of the Nikkatsu company that churned two movies a week and had to work with a low budget, be creative and churn out a film within 25 days. Needless to say, executives didn't understand Suzuki's style, they criticized him, they talked down to him but what they didn't know was that his style was not being rebellious, it was his style.

You can call his style "surreal" but what Nikkatsu wanted was traditional-style filmmaking, Seijun Suzuki who created 40 B-movies for the company between 1956 and 1967 and he was anything but traditional.

After "Tokyo Drifter", he created two movies including his masterpiece "Branded to Kill" and the company had enough of Suzuki's style of filmmaking. While he never complained, he was fired from his job and successfully sued the company for wrongful dismissal but in Japanese business tradition, if you sue an entertainment company, you will be blacklisted (which still goes on today in Japan) and in this case, Suzuki was blacklisted for ten years.

In Japan, because he stood up to the big entertainment company, he became a counterculture icon and his films were shown at midnight screenings to a packed audience.

In America, many cinema fans appreciated Suzuki's work because of its visual, surreal style that was not as common to see in Japanese gangster films.

And while "Tokyo Drifter" and "Branded to Kill" have been released in America on LD and DVD from the Criterion Collection, in Dec. 2011, the Criterion Collection released both of Seijun Suzuki's films "Tokyo Drifter" and "Branded to Kill" on Blu-ray and DVD which features improved video quality plus new interviews conducted by the Criterion Collection in 2011.

As for "Tokyo Drifter", the film was to be made to propel the career of pop star Tetsuya Watari (who sang the theme song "Tokyo Nagarerumono") and according to Suzuki, he only had 28-days to shoot the film including editing and post-production. Because Nikkatsu was growing tired of Suzuki's bizarre visual style, they cut the film's budget in hoping that it would make things much more simpler for the filmmaker. But instead, it pushed Suzuki and art director Takeo Kimura to look for creative ways to making the film look cool.

For the intro, he wanted to experiment with expired film and because they were shooting on a low-budget, in order to be creative using a single set, they used a variety of colors. And also, Suzuki wanted to stray away from the typical yakuza film by giving the main protagonist warmer colors instead of wearing the typical black suit.

Suffice to say, once again, upon completion, Nikkatsu executives were not pleased. They felt that the film did not promote Tetsuya Watari and that the film was "incomprehensible" and he was ordered to reshoot the ending.

Needless to say, the film was ahead of its time and it introduced many cinema fans of his work and also creating demand for his older Nikkatsu films.


"Tokyo Drifter" is presented in 2:35:1 aspect ratio, color and audio is presented in monaural. It's important to note that with the 2011 release, the release signifies the HD release of "Tokyo Drifter" on Blu-ray and for those wanting the best picture and audio quality, the Blu-ray is the version to buy.

But many may wonder if they owned the older 1999 DVD release and don't own a Blu-ray player, should they upgrade to the 2011 DVD release? I can tell you right now that the 2011 version takes advantage of newer technology. Colors and detail are more apparent than the older DVD and you also get newer special features. The picture quality is so much better but if you can, I highly recommend going for the Blu-ray release as you will get more vibrant colors and better picture quality.

According to the Criterion Collection, the new high-definition transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35 mm low-contrast print. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS and Pixel Farm's PFClean, while Image System's DVNR was used for small dirt, grain and noise reduction.

As for the monaural soundtrack, the new release was remastered at 24-bit from the original soundtrack print. Clicks, thumps, hiss and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated workstation.

Audio-wise, dialogue was clear and I detected no problems or crackle. Doing tests of the 1999 DVD release and the 2011 DVD release, there is a slight distinction of clarity in audio but for the most part, the difference is more apparent in the video.


"Tokyo Drifter", the 2011 DVD release comes with the following special features:

Seijun Suzuki and Masami Kuzuu - (12:12) A 2011 Criterion Collection interview with director Seijun Suzuki and assistant director Masami Kuzuu discussing "Tokyo Drifter".
1997 Interview - (20:12) The following interview with Seijun Suzuki recorded during a retrospective from 1997 courtesy of the Japan Foundation and the Los Angeles Film Forum.
Trailer - (2:47) The original theatrical trailer for "Tokyo Drifter".


16-Page booklet - Featuring a new essay titled "Catch My Drift" by writer Howard Hampton.


Visually stylish and cool, "Tokyo Drifter" was an avante garde film that was ahead of its time!

Each time I have watched "Tokyo Drifter", it's one of those films that I never grown tired of watching. When I was younger, I used to equate "Tokyo Drifter" almost like a James Bond film. Stylish in presentation, suave protagonist that is always calm, cool, collected and great with a gun and isn't afraid in getting into a brawl.

Granted, the film is a yakuza story after all, but what I enjoyed about this film is its presentation that is so awkward and sometimes unusual, but in a very cool way!

For example, the introduction of the film is shown in black and white. But the contrast of the black and white is done in a way that looks nothing like your typical B&W film and then he spots a toy gun in red, how often do you see a gangster film with this type of artistic presentation. Never.

Another scene features an accidental shooting as one of Otsuka's gang member's girlfriend is shot and killed. Typically, you would see the girl shot, perhaps a closeup of the face and then the character falling to the ground. For Suzuki, we get a shot from high above. She gets up, feels the shot, rips the top of her dress up, falls and dies and then we get a close up shot as we see the blood flowing down the top of her breast.

Another shot features Tetsu walking through a snowy path with his light blue suit, on white snow but on the right is a red mailbox. There are several of these artistic shots that I absolutely love looking at.

And then you have the action, from the perfectly posed Tetsu shooting off his gun at an enemy to a scene where the enemy thinks they got him down, but then he starts singing or whistling his "Tokyo Nagaremono" song and eventually escapes death.

This is your bonafide anti-hero and while he looks like a normal guy, it's how he's characterized. Cool, focused and no matter if he gets shot, hit and falls on the ground multiple times...his suit is still pristine and he's still singing before kicking some ass!

Even the other characters have their own distinction. Otsuka is shown primarily with the camera focused on his sunglasses, his henchman Tatsuzo, known as the Viper, is often seen with his silencer, Keiichi the loner is seen with his forest green jacket and Umetani, a friend of Kurata is seen with his suit and leather gloves.

And the set design, while the same set is used, Suzuki and his art director went for creative lighting in order to continue to give this impressive visual style despite the studio cutting their budget in hopes that Suzuki would not be so creative and kept to traditional filmmaking.

So, suffice to say, I love this film! From the first time I watched it to so many multiple viewings leading up to this 2011 release, I'm so thrilled that the Criterion Collection has chose to give the film the HD treatment.

Granted, I'm not reviewing the Blu-ray release, but since I owned the original release and now reviewing this 2011 release, I can tell the difference in quality as this 2011 DVD looks very good and I can only think that the Blu-ray is so much better! The vibrant colors, the clarity and detail...I'm impressed of how this film looks compared to the original DVD release.

And also you get special features which is a major bonus!

Overall, "Tokyo Drifter" is a film that is worth the purchase, mainly for those who love classic Japanese cinema, especially the gangster films. But in this case, it's not your typical banal yakuza film, it's stylish, visually creative and surreal and it's a wonderful film from filmmaker Seijun Suzuki. And for those who thought the old DVD release from Criterion Collection was not that great in picture quality,'re going to love how this film looks with this latest release on DVD, especially on Blu-ray!

"Tokyo Drifter" is definitely recommended!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Japanese hit man gets funky 19 Feb. 2001
By Eugene Wei - Published on
Format: DVD
This film has an unmistakably cool style. Shootouts on bare sets that look like relics of early Hollywood musicals. Old school hairdos and outfits (check out the blow dried mop and light blue suit on lead character Tetsu). Wild, outlandish color lighting and outfits that stand out from the white backgrounds. Occasional attention-gathering camera angles and movements. The cryptic English subtitles common to Asian films, and a funky, pop theme song that even Tetsu himself whistles while he works. Turns out Japan in the 60's wasn't too different from America in the 60's.
The plot drifts more than its lead character. Tetsu, once the feared and capable right hand man to a gang boss, has decided to go legit and retire from the business. He finds that easier said than done, and finds himself caught in the middle of gangland wars. Can he retain his integrity while shooting his way out of this sheltered world? Director Seijun Suzuki makes sure he'll try in style.
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