IMDb > Tattooed Life (1965)

Tattooed Life (1965) More at IMDbPro »Irezumi ichidai (original title)


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Release Date:
7 October 1966 (USA) See more »
After his own gang sets him up to kill a rival mobster, a hit man is forced to flee with his younger brother. | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
Suzuki crams as much style as substance in this underrated yakuza drama. See more (3 total) »


  (in credits order)
Hideki Takahashi ... Murakami Tetsutaro
Masako Izumi ... Kinoshita Midori
Akira Yamauchi ... Kinoshita Yuzo
Yûji Odaka ... Ezaki Osamu
Kotobuki Hananomoto ... Murakami Kenji
Hiroko Itô ... Kinoshita Masayo
Kayo Matsuo ... Oyuki
Hôsei Komatsu ... Yamano Senkichi
Kaku Takashina ... Tsuneyoshi
Michio Hino ... Tokuhira
Keisuke Noro ... Kiyogimi
Hiroshi Kôno ... Kurosawa
Shirô Yanase ... Asakichi
Hiroshi Chô ... Masayoshi
Akira Hisamatsu ... Patrolman Oikawa (as Kosuke Hisamatsu)
Hiroshi Chiyoda ... Zensuke
Zenpei Saga ... Totsuka Iwamatsu
Iwae Arai
Wataru Kobayashi ... Masakichi
Masaaki Honme ... Tsurumatsu
Akira Takahashi ... Anzo
Shirô Tonami ... Tomeji
Yoshihiro Yamaguchi ... Sailor
Ryû Ikezawa ... Head Longshoreman
Hiroshi Takao ... Sutekichi
Hiroshi Midorikawa
Eiko Takada ... Old Woman
Midori Mori ... Waitress
Yôko Yokota ... Otose
Yoko Naka ... Waitress
Yoshigi Ôba
Tessen Nakahira ... Gonji
Seizaburô Kawazu ... Akamatsu Jugoro

Directed by
Seijun Suzuki 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Kei Hattori 
Ai Kennedy  translation
Kinya Naoi 

Produced by
Masayuki Takagi .... producer
Original Music by
Masayoshi Ikeda 
Cinematography by
Kuratarô Takamura 
Film Editing by
Akira Suzuki 
Production Design by
Takeo Kimura 
Production Management
Nobutaka Sugiyama .... executive in charge of production
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Masami Kuzû .... assistant director
Sound Department
Takinosuke Yagi .... sound
Masatoshi Takase .... fight choreographer
Camera and Electrical Department
Moriyasu Tsuchida .... gaffer
Editorial Department
Kô Funyû .... colorist
Other crew
Rosemary Dean .... english subtitles
Tetsuro Shimauchi .... english subtitles
Yutaka Ônaka .... tattoos

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Irezumi ichidai" - Japan (original title)
"White Tiger Tattoo" - USA
See more »
87 min
Color (Eastmancolor)
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

Movie Connections:
Referenced in 100 Years of Japanese Cinema (1995) (TV)See more »


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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful.
Suzuki crams as much style as substance in this underrated yakuza drama., 24 May 2008
Author: chaos-rampant from Greece

The versatility and pathos Suzuki displays for what would otherwise be run of the mill yakuza flicks, never ceases to amaze me. Tattoed Life from 1965 is no exception to the rule of stylistically superior and emotionally powerful films he has under his belt.

The movie begins with the story of two brothers on the run after they murder a yakuza higher-up. One of them is the older, seasoned yakuza veteran. The other is the younger, sensitive artist. The older brother knows he's a no good criminal and thus wants to see his younger brother fulfill his dreams of becoming a sculptor. Trying to hide from the yakuzas that want their heads on a spike, first they get conned from a professional conman that promises transportation to China and then they join a construction crew that builds tunnels for another family. The story can be roughly divided into three acts. The escape from the yakuzas and their mishaps until they settle with the tunnel workers. The romance that develops between the brothers and the daughter and wife of their boss. And the final showdown.

The middle with its focus on romance and the dramatic relationship between the brothers may appear to drag a little, but it's every bit as important in establishing characters and setting up the final act. Suzuki elaborately constructs his characters, piece by piece, every scene adding to their personality and motives so when they final climax arrives, it's as powerful as it can possibly be.

Speaking of the final climax, it's easily the best part of the movie and a stylistic achievement in and off itself. Suzuki concocts an action opera full of psychedelic images, colourful lighting, deep shadows and peculiar camera angles to bring the story to a conclusion. Transformed in a Japanese Achilles, the older brother storms the enemy clan stamping grounds and aided with Suzuki's imaginative direction, skilled composition and set design, transforms a long combo of swordfight and gunfight action into a maelstrom of psychedelic images. It seems as if he was trying hard to restrain himself during the entire movie, so he could go out with all guns blazing for the finale. Fabulous.

A sprawling combination of drama and yakuza action with a dash of romance, Tattoed Life is the whole package. This is substance AND style at its best.

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