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Branded to Kill

J˘ Shishido , K˘ji Nanbara , Seijun Suzuki    Unrated   DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Product Description


Seijun Suzuki's absolutely mad yakuza movie bends the hit-man genre so out of shape it more resembles a Luis Bunuel take on Martin Scorsese. Number three killer Goro Hanada (Jo Shishido) is a hired killer who loves his work, but when he misses a target after a mere butterfly sets his carefully balanced aim astray, he becomes the next target of the mob. Goro is no pushover and easily dispatches the first comers, leaving them splayed in death contortions that could qualify for an Olympic event, but the rat-a-tat violence gives way to a surreal, sadistic game of cat and mouse. The legendary Number One mercilessly taunts his target before moving in with him in a macho, testosterone-laden Odd Couple truce that ends up with them handcuffed together. Kinky? Not compared to earlier scenes. The smell of boiling rice sets Goro's libido for his mistress so aflame that Suzuki censors the gymnastic sex with animated black bars that come to life in an animated cha-cha. Because Suzuki pushed his yakuza parodies and cinematic surrealism too far, his studio, Nikkatsu, finally called in their own metaphoric hit and fired the director with such force that he was effectively blackballed from the industry for a decade. It took about that long for audiences to embrace his audacious genre bending--Suzuki's pop-art sensibilities were just a bit ahead of their time. --Sean Axmaker

Product Description

Branded to Kill, the wildly perverse story of the yakuza's rice-sniffing "No. 3 Killer," is Seijun Suzuki at his delirious best. From a cookie-cutter studio script, Suzuki delivered this brutal, hilarious, and visually inspired masterpiece-and was promptly fired. Criterion presents the DVD premiere of Branded to Kill in a pristine transfer from the original Nikkatsu-scope master.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars an odd crime film April 13 2004
By Ted
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
This move is one of the most odd gangster films I have seen.
The film follows a gangster [who] is known as the "number 3" killer and is epeatedly threatened by the "number 1" killer.
This film contains nudity to a degree of which I am surprised was legal in Japan at the time the movie was filmed. The film has several clever tricks by the characters to avoid being shot and there is some witty humor in the film also.
The director of this film was fired by the studio after aming this film and was blacklisted for 10 years.
The Criterion Collection DVD has 2 special features on it. There is an 11 minute interview with the director Seijun Suzuki, and a slide show of Japanese movie posters and lobby cards from the collection of John Zorn, who also wrote the liner ntes thant come with the DVD.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great movie Feb. 3 2004
I really can't understand how people see this movie as being "incoherent" or "boring". Maybe I've seen too many mst3k movies...now those, THOSE movies that are riffed are incoherent! Plain and simple it's a yakuza movie, there, was that so incoherent? I just saw it on IFC and I loved it. I personally enjoyed Tokyo Drifter more, I really dug the groovy music. And artsy...you haven't seen artsy until you've seen the skateboard video memory screen. They take artsy over the top; of the 44 minutes about 5 minutes is actual skateboarding the rest is weird random images but still good. And boring...at least to me it was boring is Gerry -- it's just walking in the desert. Maybe not boring to others but it was just too much for me. Anyways Branded To Kill and Tokyo Drifter are great movies and not at all boring.
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4.0 out of 5 stars NON STOP ACTION Sept. 13 2003
By Yoshi
Here it is: BRANDED TO KILL is director, Seijun Suzuki's best movie. Japanese film lovers will tell you that Seijun is one of Japan's greatest filmmakers. Therefore this film should not be overlooked. If you like action, then prepare yourself for a real treat. You will not regret owning this film.
Forget that this film is Japanese, has subtitles, and was released in 1967. This film is a classic masterpiece. Heck, even the director got fired after its release. The film is fast paced and beautifully shot. The musical score is so smooth and keep in mind, we're talking no special effects. There is a scene where a man is literally on fire for over 20 seconds.
All in all, the story is straightforward. A Yakuza gangster is hired to kill 4 people. He learns that he is the Yakuza's third best killer. He does not know who the #1 killer is but he wants his spot. The women in this film are beautiful and the action is intense. Take a chance and see why this film has inspired so many over the years.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Color Bars, baby, color bars!!!! Jan. 23 2003
By A Customer
My Television has become the talk of the town thanks to those nifty "Color Bars" on this heaven sent DVD...whenever I throw a party the first thing I do is pop this hot mama in the plaver and drop on those hot "bars" up on my screen and ...Boom! next thing I know...I've got my pick of any female in the house!!! OH YEAH!!! Shieat, my nezra! I'd gladly pay 1,000 bananas just for this sexy mamba-jamba of a DVD...you buy it too and see what happens to your sex life!! Oh! I gotta go! Looks like another fine honey done got her eyes transfixed on my "Bars"!!! BOI!!!!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A yakuza movie through a mirror April 4 2002
"Branded To Kill" takes every Japanese gangster-movie cliche within arm's reach, stands it on its head, and points and laughs.
No wonder no one got the joke back in 1967, especially not director Seijun Suzuki's bosses at Nikkatsu. They were a studio which prided itself on being the #1 purveyor of cinematic yakuza mayhem, and when they saw Suzuki's middle-finger salute to a genre he thought was getting tired and repetitive, they made sure he didn't work in that town again for at least a decade. But Suzuki had the last laugh: not only did he come back in triumph (and is now currently recognized as being one of the greats of Japanese cinema), he even got the chance to sort-of-remake "Branded" as "Pistol Opera" at the ripe young age of 81.
Watching "Branded to Kill" now, it's easy to see why it drove the Nikkatsu suits up the wall. The "hero", Goro (Jo Shishido, with his chipmunk-like facial implants), is the #3 hitman in Japan, gunning for the top slot after the mob turns against him. See, he was given this assignment, and after he screwed it up (a butterfly landed on his gunsight), the rest of the mob went gunning for him. He returned the favor, in between boff-sessions with his girlfriend. Goro is one weird egg, all right: he gets sexually aroused by the smell of cooking rice. But he's nothing compared to the #1 hitman, to whom he gets handcuffed to for most of the third act in a "Defiant Ones"-like plot twist.
But you know something? The plot is scarcely even the point. In fact, Suzuki makes his contempt for the by-the-numbers script by reducing all its most important elements to throwaways and focusing on the weird, mannered elements that make the story so pungent.
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and entertaining March 4 2002
An anti-hero hitman who sniffs steaming rice. How much more off-the-wall can you get?
Suzuki does some amazing stuff with this movie. Weird and amusing editing, and interesting and funny sequences blended with disturbing action.
I was amused to see that this film influenced Jim Jarmusch in his recent effort, GHOST DOG. There are at least two scenes from BRANDED TO KILL that ended up being reinterpreted in GHOST DOG.
A very fun film, and another Criterion triumph.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!
Suzuki's Branded to Kill has to be one of the most incredible Japanese films ever made. The director effortlessly combines screwball comedy, 60s noir, French New Wave, spaghetti... Read more
Published on Jan. 18 2002 by LGwriter
4.0 out of 5 stars Butterfly Kiss
I was inspired to seek out Branded to Kill as it's long been one of Jim Jarmusch's favorite films, and he's long been one of my favorite filmmakers. Read more
Published on Sept. 14 2001 by Kathy Fennessy
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow
...I just had to chime in with a WOW. So "this is how No. 1 works"? Stunningly shot in BW, insanely scripted, and lovingly acted: I wouldn't trade this movie for all the rice... Read more
Published on June 18 2001 by Devon Athans
2.0 out of 5 stars The worst side of the "art film"
I think the term "incoherent" is flung around far too much in reviews, when they actually mean "implausible. Read more
Published on April 7 2001 by Dan Seitz
5.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculous Sublime Yakuza Masterpiece
The term "visionary" gets thrown around alot, but "Branded to Kill" redefines it. This '67 black and white will leave your jaw hanging. Read more
Published on March 9 2001 by Christopher L Beckwith
5.0 out of 5 stars What's It Worth?
Honestly, I was expecting a New Wave film, but what I got was a film that, stylistically, compares with the New Wave, but fails to achieve New Wave pathos. Read more
Published on Nov. 20 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars REALLY ODD, BUT A LOT OF FUN!
I'm not sure where I'm going with this review because, frankly, I don't quite know what to make of this truly odd movie. I like it, but I don't know why. Read more
Published on July 25 2000 by Claude Bouchard
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