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
Dazzling if disorienting crime film packed with goofy quirks - just don't try to make sense of it
The number-three-ranked hit-man (who makes these rankings?), 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. Number One proves to be a nut, willing to go to great lengths to torment his victim, even sleep in the same bed with him. He's also so dedicated to his job that he'll urinate on himself rather than take his eyes off his victim by going to the toilet.
I'm getting used to the idea of a certain type of crime film that is so densely plotted you never quite know what's going on and are forced to give up on it in order to enjoy the picture. American films of this type, such as "The Maltese Falcon," are usually so deftly put together that you don't realize you haven't followed everything until you stop to think about it. Other countries produce films that require a bit more patience. I recently watched the French gangster pic, "Le Doulos" (1962), and learned early to resign myself to semi-confusion.
This film, from the nutty Japanese director, Seijun Suzuki, requires a extra level of resignation. Often I couldn't tell what was happening from shot to shot. Suzuki's disorienting style is sometimes marvelous and sometimes irritating; but I can't say I was ever bored. Many of the effects in this sex-and-violence-packed film are dazzling. I especially liked how the femme fatale, in her early close-ups, is perpetually drenched by a downpour whether she's out in the rain or not.
I enjoyed this film, but any viewer can be forgiven for giving up on it and saying, "I don't get it." There's no deep meaning to get. You either abandon yourself to the goofy entertainment being offered, or you don't.
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