This Japanese monochrome film from 1967 is a mix of French New Wave and European art house in its approach. From this you can probable tell it is not strictly a Yakuza or a gang style film? With its irregular narrative, a subject matter that involves death, sex, water and the smell of boiling rice (our main character gets a hard on from the smell of rice cooking!) director Seijun Suzuki's Branded to Kill can legitimately be described as a wee bit of an odd ball amongst the Japanese gangster genre and for this reason was not treated by the Nikkatsu Corporation, who financed 40 of Suzuki's films in 12 years, with the reverence it deserved, although it does include the normal gangland ethic of eat or be eaten and of course the normal macho posturing of men with guns. In fact the company sacked their long-standing director saying that this latest film made no sense and no money. Suzuki did not direct another film for ten years!
|The deadly Misako.|
Koroshi no Rakuin is now regarded as a timeless classic, and amongst many of its admirers, which includes John Woo, Park Chan-wook and Quentin Tarantino, a cult movie. It involves ganglands self-employed hit men who for the right amount of money will happily kill people. These men are ranked in a strictly graded hierarchy with the story's main character Goro Hanada (Jo Shishido) ranked as Number Three. He is married to a nymphomaniac, who runs around there flat completely starker’s, and with whom he indulges in various sexual shenanigans. Things start to get weirder for Goro when the deadly Misako (the exotic Annu Mari) turns up to offer him a “kill or be killed” contract, and his wife is secretly hired by the mob boss to kill him!
Suzuki admits that he is happy to forgo realism for entertainment, which is certainty not to the detriment of this movie. It a film that cannot necessary be placed in any location and with its sultry 60’s jazz soundtrack and stunning cinematography by the Suzuki regular Kazue Nagatsuka deserves its re-release this year (2014).