7.4/10
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51 user 92 critic

Branded to Kill (1967)

Koroshi no rakuin (original title)
Not Rated | | Action, Crime, Drama | 15 June 1967 (Japan)
After a badly done assignment, a hitman finds himself in conflict with his organisation, and one mysterious and dangerous fellow-hitman in particular.

Director:

Seijun Suzuki

Writers:

Hachiro Guryu (screenplay), Hachiro Guryu | 3 more credits »
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jô Shishido ... Gorô Hanada (as Joe Shishido)
Mariko Ogawa Mariko Ogawa ... Mami Hanada
Annu Mari ... Misako Nakajô (as Anne Mari)
Kôji Nanbara Kôji Nanbara ... No. 1
Isao Tamagawa Isao Tamagawa ... Michihiko Yabuhara
Hiroshi Minami Hiroshi Minami ... Gihei Kasuga
Hiroshi Chô Hiroshi Chô
Atsushi Yamatoya Atsushi Yamatoya
Takashi Nomura Takashi Nomura
Tokuhei Miyahara Tokuhei Miyahara
Hiroshi Midorikawa Hiroshi Midorikawa
Akira Hisamatsu Akira Hisamatsu ... (as Kôsuke Hisamatsu)
Iwae Arai Iwae Arai
Yû Izumi Yû Izumi
Kyôji Mizuki Kyôji Mizuki
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Storyline

The number-three-ranked hit-man, with a fetish for sniffing boiling rice, fumbles his latest job, which puts him into conflict with a mysterious woman whose death wish inspires her to surround herself with dead butterflies and dead birds. Worse danger comes from his own treacherous wife and finally with the number-one-ranked hit-man, known only as a phantom to those who fear his unseen presence. Written by J. Spurlin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Post-production was completed on June 14, 1967, the day before the film was released. See more »

Quotes

No. 1: [taunting Goro Hanada over the phone] Have you eaten?
Gorô Hanada: I'm eating now.
No. 1: Sorry to interrupt. Chew your food well. Eat easily digestible foods. Malnutrition is a real handicap in a fight. You need protein. It's good to die fat as a pig.
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Connections

Spoofed in Getting Any? (1994) See more »

User Reviews

Suzuki dispenses with narrative convention in this acid-jazz noir-ish nightmare
26 May 2008 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

Much has been made of how weird and off-beat Branded to Kill is. However it is important to consider it as part of Suzuki's progression through film-making. Before you can break the rules, you have to master them. Suzuki did so in several of his earlier pictures, from Underworld Beauty to Tattooed Life. And every time he was called to deliver a run of the mill yakuza flick, he infused it with his personal style. More and more he fractured the visual language of cinema every time, until he got rid of it or transformed it into a psychotic beast for Branded to Kill, revealing what lies beneath.

A plot synopsis would read something like this: Jo Shishido is killer Number #3 with ambitions of becoming Number #1. Who is Number #1? Does he even exist? That is until he's called to transport a client safely. The borders between realism and surrealism blur hopelessly at that point and what follows is a nightmarish concoction of beautiful set-pieces that lead up to his final confrontation with Number #1.

Saying that Branded to Kill is weird is an understatement. In turns fascinating, confusing, nonsensical, surrealist, psychotic, thrilling, poetic, nightmarish, confusing, tiring, mind-numbing and exhilarating, it defies description as much as it defies sense. The boundaries of time, space and logic are blurred and all you can do is experience the ride. It doesn't try to make much sense and apparently Suzuki made it up as he went along. The result was to be fired by Nikkatsu Studios for delivering a picture that "made no sense". I don't blame them really. Studios are businesses and Branded to Kill is not a movie with massive appeal. Ahead of its time in that aspect.

Filmed in beautiful black and white, with a languid jazzy score and a film-noir ambiance, Branded to Kill will certainly appeal to people with strange tastes. Don't go in expecting a yakuza action flick (although there are several gunfights and enough action to go along) or you'll be sorely disappointed. As an indication of the uncharted territories Branded to Kill's treads, I'll guesstimate that fans of Eraserhead-era Lynch, Koji Wakamatsu and Singapore Sling's style will appreciate it. I can't say "like it", because ultimately that's between the viewer and Branded to Kill to sort. Either way, it has to be experienced at least once. Just sit back and let the surreal absurdity of it all wash over you...


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Details

Country:

Japan

Language:

Japanese | English

Release Date:

15 June 1967 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Branded to Kill See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Nikkatsu See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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