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Tokyo Drifter (Criterion) (Blu-Ray)

4.2 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Format: Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: Japanese
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Dec 13 2011
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B005ND87L8
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #19,455 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

In this jazzy gangster film, reformed killer Phoenix Tetsu’s attempt to go straight is squashed when his former cohorts call him back to Tokyo to help battle a rival gang. This onslaught of stylized violence and trippy colors got director Seijun Suzuki (Branded to Kill) in trouble with Nikkatsu studio heads, who were put off by his anything-goes, in-your-face aesthetic, equal parts Russ Meyer, Samuel Fuller, and Nagisa Oshima. Tokyo Drifter is a delirious highlight of the brilliantly excessive Japanese cinema of the sixties.

Seijun Suzuki transforms the yakuza genre into a pop-art James Bond cartoon as directed by Jean-Luc Godard. The near-incomprehensible plot is almost negligible: hitman "Phoenix" Tetsu (Tetsuya Watari), a cool killer in dark shades who whistles his own theme song, discovers his own mob has betrayed his code of ethics and hits the road like a questing warrior, with not one but two mobs hot on his trail. In a world of shifting loyalties Tetsu is the last honorable man, a character who might have stepped out of a Jean-Pierre Melville film and into a delirious, color-soaked landscape of a Vincent Minnelli musical turned gangster war zone. The twisting narrative takes Tetsu from deliriously gaudy nightclubs, where killers hide behind every pillar, to the beautiful snowy plains of Northern Japan and back again, leaving a trail of corpses in his wake. Suzuki opens the widescreen production in stark, high-contrast black and white with isolated eruptions of color that finally explode in a screen that glows in oversaturated hues, like a comic book come to life. His extreme stylization, jarring narrative leaps, and wild plot devices combine to create a pulp fiction on acid, equal parts gangster parody and post-modern deconstruction. Andrew Sarris described Sam Fuller's films as works that "have to be seen to be understood," a characterization that applies even more in this case. Mere description cannot capture the visceral effect of Suzuki's surreal cinematic fireworks. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on Nov. 25 2000
Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
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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Format: DVD
TOKYO DRIFTER has the charm of the arty movies of the sixties and, sometimes, is terribly modern in the Quarantinesque sense of the term. Overall, it offers a good cocktail ! Furthermore, it has the charm inherent to japanese movies : the characters speak during ten seconds and you have to deal with a subtitle containing four words. At least, it develops your imagination...
TOKYO DRIFTER's prolog is shot in a black & white saturated to the maximum ; faces are black, the water and the sky white and you hardly will find a grey tone. The contrast with the colours appearing after the initial generic is explosive. Welcome to Tokyo by night with his bars and night-clubs whose shadows are pink and orange. It's BLOW UP in Japan and let's admit that it's very refreshing.
Some action scenes, the final duel for instance, are very " spaghetti westerns " like and other scenes could have been shot by a Quentin Tarantino, a Samuel Raimi or a Robert Rodriguez. Imagine a duel happening on a railroad while a train is approaching ! Great and intense moment!
Sound and audio OK for me. An interesting interview with director Suzuki as bonus feature.
A DVD for the curious ones.
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Format: VHS Tape
Seijun Suzuki was one of the most popular directors in Japan in the '60's. His works, while wildly different in style and content from anything else being produced in Cinema, especially in Japan, were embraced by the younger generations of Japan for their boldness, style, and frequent irreverence.
Suzuki was probably Japan's first director to directly challenge the status quo, and the cold bravado that charactrized the rigid image of Japanese masculinity, and the violence and military nature of the Japanese society. For this he was fired from Studio, only to be rehired because of the success of his films.
His stories mix avant surrealism with striking characters, stunning camera work, and an incredible sense of the ironic. Suzuki's films can make you laugh yourself to tears, while simultaneously touching your heart, and challenging your beliefs.
Tokyo Drifter, while not Suzuki's best, was his most successful film in the box office. Humorous tale of a Yakuza boss, who is trying to go good, and his top hit man. Tightly knitted and visually vibrant this story shows the difficulties involved in trying to escape a closed society like the Yakuza, and how easily the soul is corrupted.
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