An injured thief on the run finds sanctuary within a brothel of united, ruthless women.An injured thief on the run finds sanctuary within a brothel of united, ruthless women.An injured thief on the run finds sanctuary within a brothel of united, ruthless women.
His earliest films bear a renegade, sensual flair and a vibrant visual style unsurpassed by more recent work in both the West and Asia. Working in Cinemascope, he used the widescreen frame to full effect, composing intricate shots which seem almost three dimensional, due to somewhat elaborate staging and the novel device of using dissolves to show characters and action on the opposite side of the room or space to which the main camera is pointing.
GATE OF FLESH (1964) exemplifies this. One of Suzuki's most atypical films, it tells the tale of a pimp-less group of hellcat prostitutes trying to survive in the chaotic, crime-ridden arena of post-war Tokyo. Living by a strict code, any of their number can be severely physically punished for sleeping with a man for free. Puffy-cheeked Suzuki regular Jo Shishido plays Shintaro Ibuki, a macho renegade former soldier who deals on the black market and comes to lord it over the band of women. Captivating each of them, he causes a rift among them in which the young novice hooker Maya suffers the most, as she is totally enamored of him. The film is intensely visceral, outrageous, and risque, even today. It must have been positively explosive in 1964, with its sweating, erotically-driven characters, fairly explicit depictions of sex, and savage scenes in which naked women are tied up and whipped by other women. The aggressive sensuality is further enhanced by the Fujicolor processing, which accentuates the reds and greens.
Due to his interpid nonconformism, Suzuki was fired from Nikkatsu in 1968. Amid shake-ups and financial problems at the studio, the suits decided to jettison him for making "incomprehensible" films. This prompted a massive movement on his behalf organized by his fans of time, who were mostly college students. With their support, as well as that of the Director's Guild of Japan, Suzuki filed a court case for wrongful dismissal. He won the case, but the resulting furor got him blacklisted out of the studio system, and Suzuki was only able to resume making feature films in 1977, albeit independently.
- Jan 3, 2000