Branded To Kill (1967)
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The Criterion Collection
|When Japanese New Wave bad boy Seijun Suzuki (Tokyo Drifter) delivered this brutal, hilarious, and visually inspired masterpiece to the executives at his studio, he was promptly fired. BRANDED TO KILL tells the ecstatically bent story of a yakuza assassin (Joe Shishido, the chipmunk-cheeked superstar from Gate of Flesh) with a fetish for sniffing boiled rice who botches a job and ends up a target himself. This is Suzuki at his most extreme?the flabbergasting pinnacle of his sixties pop-art aesthetic.|
Editor's NoteA not-quite tongue-in-cheek send-up of Japanese censorship and pat, by-the-numbers "Yakuza" gangster films, this gonzo feature follows a lower-level underworld assassin as he's toyed with and tormented by a higher-up after botching a job. Suzuki's strategically placed animated sequences obscured "offending" material, thwarting censors and delighting fans of the director's black humor.
Cast & Crew
|Naozumi Yamamoto - Composer|
|Hachiro Guryu - Screenwriter|
|Kazue Nagatsuka - Director of Photography|
|Mutsuo Tanji - Editor|
|Kaneo Iwai - Producer|
|Seijun Suzuki - Director|
Plot SummaryIn this cinematic masterpiece Seijan Suzuki transcends the B-movie genre. Fired after making it, he was unable to work for ten years. Branded to Kill follows the strange day-to-day existence of an expert hit-man who carries out his orders with steely determination and impassive cool. All hell breaks loose, however, when a butterfly alighting on his rifle scope results in a botched job, and a death sentence for the screw-up. Joe Shishido, with his collagen-enhanced cheekbones, makes a terrific antihero whose unusual quirks (Suzuki reasoned that a man obsessed with the scent of warm rice would signal to audiences that this guy was quintessentially Japanese) instantly endear him to newly-made fans.