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Tetsu has joined his yakuza boss in going straight, but when a rival gang threatens to bring them back into the gang wars, Tetsu must become a drifter to keep the pressure off his old boss. Written by
Erik Gregersen <email@example.com>
In 1966 Nikkatsu, a Japanese studio, requested that one of their more "difficult" directors "calm down" on his next project. The director was Seijun Suzuki. The project was Tokyo Drifter. The result was anything but calm.
A film-noir shot through with moments of brilliant, lurid colour; the film defies all conventions be it genre, style or even something as mundane and unnecessary as narrative. One scene finds Tetsuya Watari's pouting yakuza in a tense showdown with his rival. Standing on train tracks, surrounded by clean, crisp snow the screen is split in two by a clearly visible dark blue line. The use of this visual effect is telling. It adds nothing to the story, to the characterisation, it simply looks good.
The closing sequence has to be seen to be believed. It is best described as the secret lovechild of a Gene Kelly musical and a John Woo action film. Amazing.
If for nothing else, Tokyo Drifter will long be remembered for the theme tune which hauntingly drifts through the entire film.
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