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Tokyo Drifter (1966)

Tôkyô nagaremono (original title)
Not Rated | | Action, Crime, Drama | 10 April 1966 (Japan)
After his gang disbands, a yakuza enforcer looks forward to life outside of organized crime but soon must become a drifter after his old rivals attempt to assassinate him.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tetsuya Watari ...
Tetsuya 'Phoenix Tetsu' Hondo
Chieko Matsubara ...
Chiharu
Tamio Kawachi ...
Tatsuzo, The Viper
Hideaki Nitani ...
Kenji Aizawa
Eiji Gô ...
Tanaka
Tomoko Hamakawa ...
Mutsuko
Tsuyoshi Yoshida ...
Keiichi
Isao Tamagawa ...
Umetani
Eimei Esumi ...
Otsuka
Ryûji Kita ...
Kurata
Michio Hino ...
Yoshii
Shuntarô Tamamura ...
Koyanagi
Hiroshi Midorikawa
Hiroshi Chô ...
Kumamoto
Akira Hisamatsu ...
(as Kosuke Hisamatsu)
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Storyline

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 <erik@astro.as.utexas.edu>

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Action | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

10 April 1966 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Tokyo Drifter  »

Filming Locations:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Quentin Tarantino's film Kill Bill Volume 1 appears to pay homage to Tokyo Drifter in that both movies are black and white before the opening credits and then in color after the opening credits. See more »

Quotes

Tetsuya 'Phoenix Tetsu' Hondo: A drifter needs no woman.
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Connections

Referenced in Blackmail Is My Business (1968) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Mixes Sergio Leone with surreal imagery
15 March 2007 | by (Bulgaria) – See all my reviews

"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.


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