During the 1930s, a teenager yearns for a Catholic girl, whose only desire is to reform his sinful tendencies. Hormones raging, the young man channels his unsatisfied lust into the only outlet available: savage, crazed violence.
Police detective Tajima, tasked with tracking down stolen firearms, turns an underworld grudge into a blood-bath. Suzuki transforms a colorful pot-boiler into an on-target send-up of cultural colonialism and post-war greed.
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
While the British were playing the psychedelic numbers game with "The Prisoner," 1967 brought the Japanese Seijun Suzuki's "Branded to Kill." This story of a hit-man reduced to a number leads a cold killer through a surreal journey to his humanity. As the movie reveals emotions to the main character, he is struggling with his past, and is pitted against the mysterious #1.
This movie, outside of being visually stunning, is exceptional in how it explores emotions versus purpose. It beautifully juxtaposes the drive for a career, its duty and its devastation, against the desire for love and the weakness of human nature. "Branded to Kill" meshes the beauty of the film noir shadows with a surrealism laid on the foundations of Luis Bunuel. This hardboiled tail meshes dark shots with cut outs and overlays, as if a the Yakuza were shot by Man Ray.
Thankfully most of Suzuki's films have been released on video. Now he may achieve the respect and notoriety that he has earned.
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