Masters of Japanese Cinema

Posted on: Monday, January 21, 2013 - 2:45pm

Branded to Kill

Showing at Pickford Pickford
  • Tue. 2/12 6:25pm

91 minutes • 1967 • Japan • In Japanese w/ English subtitles • Unrated


PFC's Masters of Japanese Cinema

"One of the most bizarre movies ever made, a wildly perverse and incredibly stylish one-of-a-kind deconstructionist yakuza thriller." TV Guide's Movie Guide

When Japanese New Wave bad boy Seijun Suzuki 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 with a fetish for sniffing steamed rice (the chipmunk-cheeked superstar Joe Shishido) 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.

Branded to Kill is famous for supposedly being the film that got Suzuki Seijun fired from his studio, Nikkatsu.  The real story is considerably more complicated, but when you see the film, you can easily imagine that the studio bosses were not best pleased - Suzuki pushes the design parameters at the expense of narrative coherence to such a degree that the film really does look more like an avant-garde exercise instead of the simple gangster potboiler it was supposed to be.  Suzuki has been a darling among cult cinema aficionados for many years, and Branded to Kill is probably the most important film in creating that reputation.  If you've not encountered Suzuki before, you're in for a wild ride, and I hope it leads you to explore more films by him.  The intro will be provided by Massimiliano Tomasi, the director of WWU's East Asian Studies program, who last provided an intro for us for Tampopo a couple of years ago.
Jeff Purdue