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on April 13, 2004
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.
This film follows a retired killer named Tetsu who continues to receive threats from people and is asked to help take out a rival gang.
This film is shot in full color and has some interesting tricks done with that. There are parts where the color changes and 'differentials' of color from one side of the screen to the next. It is very difficult to describe but you know what they say. "a picture is worth a thousand words" I would suggest you see it for yourself if you are interested.
The film also has an excellent theme song which reminded me of the songs by Kyu Sakamoto, best known for his song "Ue O Muite Arouko" and known outside of Japan as "Sukiyaki."
There is also a 20 minute interview with director Seijun Suzuki on the DVD as a special feature.
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on May 14, 2002
Stylin' color, smooth story, catchy tune... and that blue suit with those white shoes! A thorough pleasure from start to finish. Also, fascinating interview with the director - gives a real insider view on the Japanese film studio business in the 50's.
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on April 28, 2002
While visually interesting, Tokyo Drifter lacks a cohesive story or any character development. It seems as if the editor removed the most important scenes. At one point in the movie the main character Tetsu has two hitmen in the back of the car he's driving and inexplicably escapes unscathed. The final outcome of the car scene is missing. This is just one of the many examples of poor editing. The subtitles on this DVD are equally disjointed and incomprehensible (laughably so, at times).
This movie is for students of Japanese film only.
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on September 8, 2001
it begins black & white and bursts into hallucinogenic technicolor. avant-filmmaking, to be sure. the sets are color-coded and the action highly stylized. james bond on acid? yep. through a kaliedoscope, too. it's hard to follow, you may have to view it 3, 4... 30 times. but it's good. i love the hero, and the doomed secretary. it smacks of true 60's film style and feels a bit like a clint eastwood spaghetti western. if you've ever seen woody allen's "what's up, tigerlily?", this movie begs to be re-dubbed with corny dialogue, it's even got the pop-music interludes. (i hope i haven't offended the purists who hold this movie sacred). i have seen it on the independent film channel and it's that kind of experience - an action movie for the bohemian, artistic outsider.
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on June 23, 2001
Tokyo Drifter is stylish like Out of Sight, has a storyline less plausable than that of a John Woo movie. The friendships and dialogue are corny, there are color skews between BW and bursting color, and a theme song sung through out the movie by the protagonist. So, what do you get when the movie's over? The movie is a stylish, fun, and I have a feeling, symbolical with it's plot line and characters. It tries things that you wish you would see in a decent spy movie, but of course none ever come out anymore. But, Tokyo Drifter, though it isn't dubbed over in English, is a fantastic movie, and a second watch let's you go mostly without the subtitles.
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on March 24, 2001
I myself have an interest in japanese films of all genres anime to yakuza this film is probably a pinnacle in terms of the japanese yakuza genre shared with the films of kitano and the director of the this film suzuki. Now the film had great artistic licence upon first glances with a beautiful color filter distortion and a pop art gun. the plot of the film changed alot though but this film i felt was justified in being so disjointed as it was as it started in a bizarre fashion and had some strange cutting sequences and had strange locations such as the disco. the charcters apart from him like red tetsu who was the anti tetsu i thought added to the satire that liked to weave its way in out out of the movie take for example the bar fight. This movie like the best ever japanese film ever seven samurai blended many themes of cinema into one film although the huge differnce was that sevenn samurai was over three hours long this was not nearly as long and this hardly blended the as more put them in a bag, beat them and left them on the sidewalk. BRILLIANCE
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on February 18, 2001
This film has an unmistakably cool style. Shootouts on bare sets that look like relics of early Hollywood musicals. Old school hairdos and outfits (check out the blow dried mop and light blue suit on lead character Tetsu). Wild, outlandish color lighting and outfits that stand out from the white backgrounds. Occasional attention-gathering camera angles and movements. The cryptic English subtitles common to Asian films, and a funky, pop theme song that even Tetsu himself whistles while he works. Turns out Japan in the 60's wasn't too different from America in the 60's.
The plot drifts more than its lead character. Tetsu, once the feared and capable right hand man to a gang boss, has decided to go legit and retire from the business. He finds that easier said than done, and finds himself caught in the middle of gangland wars. Can he retain his integrity while shooting his way out of this sheltered world? Director Seijun Suzuki makes sure he'll try in style.
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on November 25, 2000
A brilliant shabu (crystal meth) induced film about the Yakuza. The actual name of the film is Tokyo Nagaremono, and a true treat for the Yakuza obsessed (such as myself). I very much enjoy the plot, I don't like films that beat the story into your head. American cinema is designed for the mass amounts of idiots that make up this country, and if you find the plot hard to follow, you're an idiot...sorry, face it.
If you found mission impossible difficult to grasp, look elswhere for entertainment. If not, this is right up your alley. Brilliant, and I mean brilliant, lighting effects cascade across this widescreen masterpiece. It's cheesball overtones are met with a drive to push cinema farther, I wish modern directors were allowed to push like this.
It's occasionally comical, well photographed, story is a joy when you have time to spare, and some Pocky (available in the asian department at Safeway and Albertsons) to munch on. It is not fast paced, so enjoy on a rainy day. The character develpment is typical Japanese style, and cliche.
The theme song will stick, along with the vivid color changing effects (never done like this). Watch the giant donut looking thing change from yellow to red at the end, enjoy the not so subtle red illumination on the blinds when the gangs secretary is shot.
Most of all, enjoy the taste of Japan in the 60's, Yakuza style.
Highly recommended for the discerning viewer. One of few films to recieve a 9of 10 rating from myself.
Yakuza no michi!
P.S. Look out for NonStop by Sabu, a rare treat.
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on July 8, 2000
The only reason Seijun Suzuki's "Toky Drifter" is getting four stars instead of five is because the story gets hokey and hard to follow at times. But what a wallop the visual fireworks and rapid-fire, jump-cut editing pack! "Tokyo Drifter" is easy to understand after viewing it a few times, but initially the story takes a back seat to Suzuki's inventive, French-New-Wave style of creating the images, which are breathtaking. "Phoenix," a reformed killer for the Yakuza, dreamily walks around Tokyo after quitting the racket, expecting to be executed. But when he is called back into duty to help rid the city of a rival gang, the film "drifts" into a surreal mix of equal parts Luis Bunuel, Sam Fuller and Jean Luc Godard. The action never lets up, and the film is a wonderfully funny mix of comedy and violence. The performers even break out into song at unexpected times, although the film is certainly not a musical. You just never know what to expect, which is what makes this little-seen film so much fun. "Tokyo Drifter" is unlike any film you have ever seen. It's a true original and Criterion presents it in a widescreen version that is terrific. Contains a rare, insightful interview with Japanese director Seijun Suzuki. In Japanese with English subtitles.
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on May 17, 2000
When I saw the old auto going into the flames accompanied by theme song, I was caught. Not that the storyline is great like in Kurosawa movies - it is just standard gangster movie, but the power of video is amazing.
Many people will not like the movie. But it is really worth to try.
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