Seijun Suzuki – Jûsangô taihi-sen ori: Sono gôshô o nerae aka Take Aim At The Police Van (1960)

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A sharpshooter kills two prisoners in a police van at night. The guard on the van is suspended for six months; he’s Tamon, an upright, modest man. He begins his own investigation into the murders. Who were the victims, who are their relatives and girlfriends, who else was on the van that night? As he doggedly investigates, others die, coincidences occur, and several leads take him to the Hamaju Agency, which may be supplying call girls. Its owner is in jail, his daughter, the enigmatic Yuko, keeps turning up where Tamon goes. Tamon believes he can awaken good in people, but has he met his match? Will he solve the murders or be the next victim? And who is Akiba? Continue reading

Seijun Suzuki – Hishu monogatari aka A Story of Sorrow And Sadness (1977)

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After Suzuki was fired for making ‘incomprehensible’ movies his first effort back after a long period of industry suppression was “Story Of Sorrow And Sadness”. In this corporate-victimization expose professional model Reiko (Shiraki) is dramatically groomed for a top spot on the golf tour. Her handlers saw her as an easy ‘sell’ if she could just prove worthy enough at the chosen sport. Her surprising victory in her first professional competition opens the door for her huge celebrity status as a bikini-clad TV talk show hostess. All the trappings of public adoration are forced, almost Bunuel-like, to the surface with protagonist indifference towards her fans, abuse, irresponsibility and a bit of sexual dalliance. Let’s make it clear – this is just as incomprehensible as most other Suzuki films – filled with some Imamura-style sexuality and each scene as unexpected and unpredictable as the next. Certainly another bizarre product of the psychedelic mind of a cult icon in Japanese cinema. Continue reading

Seijun Suzuki – Nikutai no mon AKA Gate of Flesh (1964)

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In the shady black markets and bombed-out hovels of post–World War II Tokyo, a tough band of prostitutes eke out a dog-eat-dog existence, maintaining tenuous friendships and a semblance of order in a world of chaos. But when a renegade ex-soldier stumbles into their midst, lusts and loyalties clash, with tragic results. With Gate of Flesh (Nikutai no mon), visionary director Seijun Suzuki delivers a whirlwind of social critique and pulp drama, shot through with brilliant colors and raw emotions. Continue reading

Seijun Suzuki – Yaju no seishun aka Youth of the Beast (1963)

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Synopsis:

Youth of the Beast marked a turning point in director Seijun Suzuki’s career. No longer content to just crank out production-line gangster films, here Suzuki starts to assert his own voice. The plot is fairly typical for the genre: chipmunk-cheeked Jo Shishido stars as ex-cop Jo Mizuno, who muscles his way into the shadowy world of the yakuza. He gets hired by the clan that killed his former partner while double-dealing with the clan’s rival. Yet the plot contains some particularly Suzuki-like details. Why is Jo’s partner more interested in guns than in women? Why does Hide, the notorious gay gangster, always slash the face of anyone who mentions his mother? What does this all have to do with the Takeshita School of Knitting? Suzuki’s audacious style heightens the absurdity and artifice of both the genre and the medium with pop-art colors, loopy camera placements, and bizarre, dream-like images: A feather-clad dancer silently struts behind sound-proofed two-way mirrors, a pink dust storm serendipitously occurs while a pimp whips a junkie prostitute. The film is a dizzying visual feast whose tone Seijun Suzuki would amplify to the most absurd heights in his later films, Tokyo Drifter (1966) and Branded to Kill (1967). — Jonathan Crow Continue reading

Seijun Suzuki – Koroshi no rakuin aka Branded to Kill [+Extras] (1967)

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Weirdest Japanese Movie of 1967

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Born in Tokyo in 1923, Seijun Suzuki directed 42 films for Nikkatsu, averaging on about four a year, and he claims he could edit each in about a day. Despite being lauded by the critics for his unique visual style, as far as the general public and Nikkatsu president Kyusaku Hori were concerned by the mid-60s Suzuki’s approach was beginning to spin rapidly out of control.

In the latter part of the 60s, Nikkatsu’s undemanding youth-oriented potboilers were beginning to lose the company serious money. A scapegoat was needed, so after the colourful excesses of Tokyo Drifter (Tokyo Nagaremono, 1966) Suzuki was told to turn in something a little more conventional or else. Branded to Kill was the result and it was sufficiently whacked out for Nikkatsu to give him his marching orders (“They told me my films didn’t make money and they didn’t make sense, so they fired me”, Suzuki opines in the interview accompanying this DVD release.) Continue reading

Seijun Suzuki – Nikutai no mon AKA Gate of Flesh [+Extras] (1964)

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In the shady black markets and bombed-out hovels of post–World War II Tokyo, a tough band of prostitutes eke out a dog-eat-dog existence, maintaining tenuous friendships and a semblance of order in a world of chaos. But when a renegade ex-soldier stumbles into their midst, lusts and loyalties clash, with tragic results. With Gate of Flesh (Nikutai no mon), visionary director Seijun Suzuki delivers a whirlwind of social critique and pulp drama, shot through with brilliant colors and raw emotions. Continue reading

Seijun Suzuki – Tokyo nagaremono AKA Tokyo Drifter (1966)

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Tokyo Drifter is a 1966 yakuza action film directed by Seijun Suzuki. The story follows Tetsuya Watari as the reformed yakuza hitman “Phoenix” Tetsu who is forced to roam Japan awaiting his imminent execution by rival gangs.

Synopsis
After the disbandment of the Kurata syndicate Tetsu is sought out by rival yakuza clan boss Otsuka. He attempts to enlist Tetsu into his gang but fails. Fearing that Tetsu will upset a real estate scam in the making Otsuka decides to have him eliminated. Sensing this Tetsu leaves Tokyo.Otsuka assigns his number one hitman, “Viper”, to kill him… Continue reading