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Criterion Collection: Tokyo Drifter [DVD] [1966] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Tetsuya Watari , Chieko Matsubara , Seijun Suzuki    DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

Note: you may purchase only one copy of this product. New Region 1 DVDs are dispatched from the USA or Canada and you may be required to pay import duties and taxes on them (click here for details). Please expect a delivery time of 5-7 days.


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Product details

  • Actors: Tetsuya Watari, Chieko Matsubara, Tamio Kawaji, Hideaki Nitani, Eiji G
  • Directors: Seijun Suzuki
  • Writers: Khan Kawauchi
  • Producers: Tetsuro Nakagawa
  • Format: Black & White, Colour, DVD-Video, Letterboxed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 - 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: 23 Feb 1999
  • Run Time: 82 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0780022041
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 129,652 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)



In Tokyo Drifter director Seijun Suzuki transforms the yakuza genre into a pop-art James Bond cartoon as directed by Jean-Luc Godard. The near-incomprehensible plot is negligible: hitman "Phoenix" Tetsu (Tetsuya Watari), a cool killer in dark shades who whistles his own theme song, discovers his own mob has betrayed his code of ethics and hits the road like a questing warrior, with not one but two mobs hot on his trail. In a world of shifting loyalties Tetsu is the last honourable man, a character who might have stepped out of a Jean-Pierre Melville film and into the delirious, colour-soaked landscape of this Vincent Minnelli musical-turned-gangster war zone.

The twisting narrative takes Tetsu from deliriously gaudy nightclubs, where killers hide behind every pillar, to the beautiful snowy plains of northern Japan and back again, leaving a trail of corpses in his wake. Suzuki opens the widescreen production in stark, high-contrast black and white with isolated eruptions of colour which finally explode in a screen glowing with oversaturated hues, like a comic book come to life. His extreme stylisation, jarring narrative leaps and wild plot devices combine to create pulp fiction on acid, equal parts gangster parody and post-modern deconstruction. Mere description cannot capture the visceral effect of Suzuki's surreal cinematic fireworks. --Sean Axmaker,

Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cool with a capital C 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
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
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely unmissable 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) 4.0 out of 5 stars  25 reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the most brilliantly edited films I have seen! 8 July 2000
By Lance Swanson - Published on
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.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stylish 21 Aug 2007
By Yoshi - Published on
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "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....
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars another unusual gangster film 13 April 2004
By Ted - Published on
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
This film follows a retired killer named Tetsu who continues to receive threats from people and is asked to help take out a rival gang.
This film is shot in full color and has some interesting tricks done with that. There are parts where the color changes and 'differentials' of color from one side of the screen to the next. It is very difficult to describe but you know what they say. "a picture is worth a thousand words" I would suggest you see it for yourself if you are interested.
The film also has an excellent theme song which reminded me of the songs by Kyu Sakamoto, best known for his song "Ue O Muite Arouko" and known outside of Japan as "Sukiyaki."
There is also a 20 minute interview with director Seijun Suzuki on the DVD as a special feature.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars that BLUE suit! 14 May 2002
By A Customer - Published on
Stylin' color, smooth story, catchy tune... and that blue suit with those white shoes! A thorough pleasure from start to finish. Also, fascinating interview with the director - gives a real insider view on the Japanese film studio business in the 50's.
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