Branded to Kill

Branded to Kill

3.6 6
Director: Seijun Suzuki

Cast: Jo Shishido, Mariko Ogawa, Koji Nanbara

     
 

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A delirious fever dream of a film, Seijun Suzuki's Branded to Kill takes the familiar elements of "B"-movie crime drama and transforms them into something outrageously bizarre and unexpectedly poetic. The film's story centers on Hanada, a.k.a. "No. 3 Killer," the third-best hit man in Japanese organized crime. Near the top of his game, his fortunes change when…  See more details below

Overview

A delirious fever dream of a film, Seijun Suzuki's Branded to Kill takes the familiar elements of "B"-movie crime drama and transforms them into something outrageously bizarre and unexpectedly poetic. The film's story centers on Hanada, a.k.a. "No. 3 Killer," the third-best hit man in Japanese organized crime. Near the top of his game, his fortunes change when he encounters Misako, a mysterious, death-obsessed woman who brings him a particularly difficult mission. In a famous moment indicative of the film's eccentric sensibility, a butterfly lands on his gun's sight at the exact moment he pulls the trigger, causing him to miss the shot. This failure means that the killer becomes the target, and must run for his life from his former employers, and the mysterious "No. 1 Killer." While the film does contain some spectacular action sequences, the story is played less as a suspense thriller than as a surrealistic, psychosexual nightmare, filled with grotesque imagery and strange touches, such as Misako's use of a dead bird's corpse as a rear-view mirror decoration, and his almost fetishistic fixation with the smell of boiling rice. Indeed, the narrative is at times so fragmented that it is often difficult to decipher exactly what is happening; however, the striking black-and-white cinematography and avant-garde editing provide the film with a dream logic all its own. Now considered by many critics a maverick classic comparable to the works of Samuel Fuller or Jean-Luc Godard, the film was less well received at the time of its original release, with its utter strangeness leading to director Suzuki's firing from the Nikkatsu studio and the near destruction of his career.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Jonathan Crow
Like an unholy marriage of Goldfinger (1964) and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919), Branded to Kill is a brilliantly weird reductio ad absurdum of the Japanese gangster flick that still manages to shock, thrill, and entertain. Director Seijun Suzuki presents a hallucinatory ultra-hip world of compulsive sex, frenzied violence, and boiling rice, held together with only the barest attention to logic or narrative coherence. Marked by Pop Art aesthetics, loopy cinematic devices, and disorienting leaps of narrative, it leaves the viewer breathless with its sheer stylistic invention. Yet Branded almost ended Suzuki's career. Executives at Nikkatsu Studios were already growing increasingly impatient with the two-fisted flamboyance of such films as Tokyo Drifter (1966) and Youth of the Beast (1963), and Branded was the straw broke the camel's back; Suzuki was promptly sacked by enraged studio heads. Now Suzuki is recognized as Japan's great cinematic maverick and Branded to Kill is considered one his finest works.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/13/2011
UPC:
0715515090513
Original Release:
1967
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[B&W, Wide Screen]
Time:
1:31:00
Sales rank:
45,844

Special Features

VIdeo piece featuring new interviews with Director Seijun Suzuki and Assistant Director Masami Kuzuu; Interview with Suzuki from 1997; New interview with Actor Joe Shishido; Trailer

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Cast & Crew

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Branded to Kill
1. Business as Usual [10:09]
2. A Real Pro [8:59]
3. "Oh, and Regards to Your Wife" [6:23]
4. Four Birds [3:57]
5. Devil's Job [5:33]
6. Madame Butterfly [8:37]
7. Rice Cooker Blues [9:11]
8. Flame On! [4:37]
9. Number 3, Like a Bullet [5:47]
10. "Happens All the Time" [2:53]
11. Take Aim at the Gunman [3:06]
12. Eat at Hanada's [2:27]
13. Strange Bedfellows [5:24]
14. One Thing Every Killer Should Know [6:05]
15. "Your Fate is Sealed" [7:58]
16. Color Bars [:00]

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