Branded to Kill (1967)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Gangster Film, Crime Thriller  |   Run Time - 92 min.  |   Countries - Japan   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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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.