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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>
"Tokyo Drifter" is my introduction to the cinematic work of director Seijun Suzuki and it made quite a big impression. This is by far one of the most visually unique movies I have ever seen and the fact that it was made in 1966 makes it even more impressive.
Tetsuya played by Tetsuya Watari is a yakuza who has joined his boss Kurato (Ryuji Kita) in going straight. Unfortunately for both of them a rival gang begins threatening Kurato's legitimate business. After a brief confrontation Tetsuya is forced to leave his boss that way he would hopefully relieve the pressure between Kurato and the gang. Things don't go as smoothly as Tetsuya planned and he finds himself chased by gangs all over Japan.
The story is standard fare yakuza tale. With a hefty doze of betrayal, inner power struggles and a bit of melodrama in the form of Tetsuya's girlfriend. We've seen it all before. Now. What really sets this movie apart from any other is it's unique visual nearly surrealistic style. Suziki employs several tricks in order to assure that the film will remain distant from any other. His use of colors creates one part of the that. More accurately his use of color contrast, we see that in several scenes through the movie, for example during the final shootout we see gang members dressed in primarily black suits while the location itself was in mainly white bright colors. Tetsuya himself is often dressed in colors that merge him with the backgrounds further helping in the creation of the film's extravagant look. The second aspect of the movie's uniqueness is the camera work and the overall directing. Suziki employs techniques that are reminiscene of western movies and more specifically Sergio Leone's line of work. The final shootout again serves as a great example of that.
The acting is on par with the script, characters are well played by their respective actors. They don't make an overly big impression but certainly don't deteriorate the quality. The film has a good music score with a particularly memorable theme song by the main actor Tetsuya Watari that is always nice to hear and fit's very well with the mood.
"Tokyo Drifter" is a movie that offers stunning visuals and a plot that while not very deep in characterization is still able to carry the film's unique style. Mister Suzuki is able to impress, sadly his production company at the time wasn't on the same opinion and soon after he was fired and blacklisted for 10 years. A real shame for a director with such talent.
5 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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