A hit-man, with a fetish for sniffing boiling rice, fumbles his latest job, putting him into conflict with his treacherous wife, with a mysterious woman eager for death and with the phantom-like hit-man known only as Number One.
Bank robbery in small town ends with one of the robbers being wounded. The loot from the robbery is just a asset for the even more spectacular heist. Simon, gang leader and Paris night club... See full summary »
The melancholy, homely Kamimura is a hit man who takes a job to kill a mob boss who's gotten greedy. The rival gang lord who hires Kamimura and his driver Shun pays them and sets them up in... See full summary »
When an ambulatory TV news unit live broadcasts the embarrassing defeat of a police battalion by five bank robbers in a ballistic showdown, the credibility of the police force drops to a ... See full summary »
Super Fly is a cocaine dealer who begins to realize that his life will soon end with either prison or his death. He decides to build an escape from the life by making his biggest deal yet, ... See full summary »
Using unprecedented degrees of violence, young Joey Tai becomes the head of Chinese mafia in New York and undisputed leader of the Chinese community. Stanley White, the most decorated cop ... See full summary »
Police inspector and excellent hostage negotiator Ho Sheung-Sang finds himself in over his head when he is pulled into a 72 hour game by a cancer suffering criminal out for vengeance on Hong Kong's organized crime Syndicates.
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>
Unless you have been blessed to track down the films of Suzuki Seijun, you will never, ever, have seen anything like this before. It has a plot - it is a gangster film - a hero, his girl and villains. There are betrayals and gunfights. You still won't have seen anything like this before. Imagine A BOUT DE SOUFFLE, shot in the style of UNE FEMME EST UNE FEMME, with a mixture of Leone, Welles, Melville, THE AVENGERS and Fuller's HOUSE OF BAMBOO. Not even close.
The basic plot concerns the title hero, a gangster trying to go straight. His boss and father-figure (this is a very Oedipal film, but the concept, with its many variations, is stretched to absurd breaking point), also a former gangster, is being pushed around by some extraordinarily attired hoods. The hero has a girl who sings big Michel Legrand-type numbers in a huge, blazingly colourful art deco/Busby Berkeley/Jean Cocteau-type nightclub. Because the hero is a maverick, he lies low for a while (i.e. drifts), but is followed by a hitman. All converges in a fairly predictable fashion.
To appropriate the ad, Plot is Nothing, Style is Everything. If a studio with big resources is, as Welles claimed, a 'toy set', then Seijun is the class freak. The monochrome gangster world is blown apart by shocks of colour, be they dazzling primary hues, or deliberately effete pastels. This serves to upturn the black and white ideology of the gangster genre. The men are all snarling and macho, but the hero sings and whistles, like the Duke's singing cowboy; the lead villain wears loud red shirts and sports a ridiculous moustache. There is even room in the plot for a gag about hairdryers.
Like in Godard, the crucial plot elements are roundly mocked; the seemingly major event of the hero being captured by and subsequently evading the police is as if filmed by an inept child. The group violence scenes are messy, like brawls at a children's party. There is even a bar-room brawl in a Western saloon in a Japanese gangster movie.
Mirroring Melville's heros, the hero aspires to aloof self-sufficiency, but he is constantly undermined by the film. Whole chunks of story don't make sense. The vertiginous editing is like the maniacal string-pulling of a puppeteer ,and there is a strong Brechtian feel to the film, with frequent breaks for cheesy song; impossible sets; unmotivated lighting; some of the most bizarre and beautiful camera movements in film.
All this stylistic bravura could be monotonous if it wasn't grounded intellectually and emotionally. There are some really beautiful oases of grace amid the violent mayhem. The film is a firm attack on the assumptions of genre, conformity, sterile repetition, linked to conformity in Japanese society at large, and big business in particular. Like 50s melodramas, the colour schemes, lighting and composition reflect the state of mind of the characters. The lengthy snow sequence is worthy of Joyce's 'The Dead'.
When it comes to Japanese cinema, I know we're all supposed to bow down to Kurosawa and Ozu, but I'll take the absolutely hatstand Seijun anyday. Breathtaking genius.
41 of 49 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?