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Pistol Opera [DVD]

Price: £3.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Pistol Opera [DVD] + Tokyo Drifter [1966] [DVD] + Fighting Elegy [1966] [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Makikio Esumi, Sayoko Yamaguchi, Hanae Kan, Masatoshi Nagase, Mikijiro Hira
  • Directors: Seijun Suzuki
  • Producers: Ikki Katashima, Satoru Ogura
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Yume Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: 23 Oct. 2006
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • ASIN: B000H1QR22
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 69,066 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


Highly stylised action film by cult Japanese director Seijun Suzuki, made as a remake-cum-sequel to his 1967 gangster film 'Branded to Kill'. Makiko Esumi stars as Miyuki 'Stray Cat' Minazuki, a beautiful female assassin who is branded number three in the hierarchy of professional killers - all of whom are trying to outstalk each other to kill their opponents and attain the coveted number one title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Leeam on 16 Nov. 2009
Format: DVD
Made by a maverick director it's still hard to believe this was produced in 2001. It looks and feels like a product of the seventies. This is not a criticism its just not a contemporary film at all. The film is bursting with colour, wonderful mise en scene, cool characters and philosophical dialogue. Its very arty which is what i loved about it. If you are hoping for a conventional crime or gangster film it will disappoint. The action scenes are staged like you are watching in the theatre which goes back to my first point about the film not feeling contemporary. The story is basic. A group of professional killers try and bump each other off to become number one killer. The story focuses on the very beautiful 'Stray Cat'. There's little narrative development but it doesnt matter too much because there is so much to look at. It is simply stunning visually in terms of colour schemes, costumes and settings. Great music too. Its a unique film but it isn't for everyone.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Innocence, intensity, and intractability 8 Dec. 2004
By LGwriter - Published on
Format: DVD
Plot doesn't count.

Not with this baby. It doesn't matter about who's the No. 3 killer or who's No. 1 or No. 5 or...whatever. What matters, if it can be stated that way, is the constant barrage of visuals and the trying to be hip dialogue.

This is a wacky, peculiar movie. Some folks dismiss it as being a big bunch of nothing--very likely because there is no real linear plot. Some tout it as being a work of genius--possibly because, in addition to it having no real linear plot it has all kinds of surreal imagery and complete non-sequiturs (sp.?) plotwise, logic-wise, character-wise, and any other kind of way-wise. What I'm gonna do here is to say that it does have some elements of interest but that for anyone who loves character and/or plot development, this is NOT gonna do it for ya.

What we DO know is that the main character is a young woman, Stray Cat, who is the No. 3 killer and that there is a mysterious woman she hangs out with who is her "agent" and also that she, Stray Cat, has a much younger sister who wants to learn from her older sibling how to kill. We also meet Hundred Eyes, the No. 1 killer, Painless Man, the No. 5 killer--a long-bearded American who speaks Japanese, Teacher, the No. 2 killer--a man in a wheelchair, and various other "Numbers" all of whom have colorful names and, again, no character development at all.

The only real connection this has, it seems to me, to Branded to Kill, Suzuki's delirious 1967 film, is the similarity of the presence of "No. 1" and "No. 2" and all that. Other than that, this film is radically different. Aside from the difference in color (Branded to Kill is in black & white; Pistol Opera is in blazing color, similar to Tokyo Drifter), Pistol Opera makes use of so many hallucinatory/dream sequences that it is virtually impossible to distinguish the "real" from the "non-real".

This seems to be the point of the whole thing, in fact. That, and the juxtaposition of innocence with mortality. The younger sister is the representation of innocence who her older sibling, Stray Cat, does not want to corrupt by teaching her how to kill, and with whom Stray Cat has a strong bond. The No. 3 killer (i.e., Stray Cat) wants to try to have her cake and eat it too. She wants to be No. 3, or even higher, but she also wants the innocence of her younger sister. Is this an "art film" analysis? Gee, I dunno. This is just the way it struck me when I saw the film.

The intensity of the brilliant colors is nothing new for Suzuki; as mentioned previously, he did this before with Tokyo Drifter and other films as well. But here he, in essence, goes overboard. The yellows are blindingly bright, as are various other hues. Intensity, too, is obvious in the hipper than hip, often arch dialogue that smacks the viewer in the mental face all the time. It never lets up.

This wacky fusion of innocence and intensity marks Suzuki as an original who has no intention of giving up on how to push style so far, so hard, and so frequently that while the viewer may not cotton to this film at all, he won't soon forget it.

Not my kind of film...but truly different, unique, and a fascinating piece of cinema. Wacky to the max. Recommended? Wow, who knows???
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Suzuki certainly hasn't mellowed... 7 Mar. 2004
By J. P. DuQuette - Published on
Format: DVD
Pistol Opera is a difficult movie to watch. Scenes do not connect in a standard linear fashion. Movements are stylized, drawing more inspiration from modern dance movements than Tarentino-esque action flicks. Makiko-chan makes a compelling heroine, but we never get any insight on her character or any others. And the tempo of the movie slows towards the end, repeating certain shots, increasing the tedium and the desire for a more meaningful conclusion, which never comes.
Why four stars then? Suzuki is a master of this kind of cinematic tone-poem, and this is probably his most unrestrained work yet. It was just this bizarre vision which got him black-listed back in the 60's, and it comforting that he has lost none of his confidence in his own extremely unconventional style. Often visually stunning and filmed in beautiful primary colors (as opposed to "Branded to Kill", the 'prequel' which was in B&W), "Pistol Opera" gets off on its own audaciousness and if you're ready for a REALLY different trip to the movies, then maybe you're ready for this baby
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Impressive amalgamation of styles. 2 April 2004
By James Marks - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Picture Sergio Leonne crossed with John Woo and then add a big dash of Martha Grahmm.
A visually unique film, a remake of Suzuki's 1967 film Branded to Kill, which (obliquely) tells the story of a young hit-person named Stray Cat (Brian Setzer jokes intentionally witheld) who has been forced into a killing tournament with other ranked assasins.
The aspect of this film that holds it in such sharp relief from others in the genre is the visualization. Suzuki use a few conventional setups, but on the whole the film shows an expresionist representation of the story taking place. There are even portions of Pistol Opera where dance becomes the intergral means of communicating plot to a viewer.
While it can be a bit confusing at times (I still don't get the deal with the bulldozer and the poppies) and has a taste of being filmed in a hurry (there was one scene where I stopped counting boom shots around 10 and a very important scene where someone runs into a "tree" and nearly knocks the flimsy thing over), these are nitpicks.
I just finished watching this film and wanted to write this while the experiance is fresh in my mind. My advice is to relax. If a story element has you frowning, give it a minute and things should become clear. Even if it doesn't, don't worry about it. This is a rad flick, a cool story with awesome visual impact.
Then watch it a second time and see if you can figure out what was going on with that dang bulldozer.
I love grind-house style movies 13 Dec. 2014
By M0ng0l13 - Published on
No matter the quality, or acting, American or Asian, I love grind-house style movies.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Not Branded to Kill 1 July 2012
By xfansd - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is one of two films that I regret buying. I bought it because it is a "spiritual sequel" to Branded to Kill, which I felt was a pretty good assassin movie with just a couple incoherent scenes. But this is way more nonsensical than Branded, it barely has a plot. This movie seems like just an excuse for the director to film a plethora of what he thinks are "interesting" scenes; including one with guys in the background wearing sarongs, covered in grey paint that are not even acknowledged. Yep, that had zero relevance to any part of the story.

The only positive things about Pistol Opera are; one or two cool scenes (i.e. Stray Cat's assassination at the pool and part of her gunfight with the blonde guy), the movie's theme song and some of the characters are kinda cool too. This could have been an updated, modern day Branded to Kill, but is just another ridiculously wacky Japanese movie.
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