House of Bamboo (1955)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Drama, Detective Film  |   Release Date - Jul 1, 1955 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 102 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Tom Vick

Filmed on location in Japan, one of the most interesting features of this caper film by Samuel Fuller is its depiction of a pre-modernization Tokyo that would very soon disappear. Fuller's fascination with Japan is obvious in every frame, but the unfamiliar territory (this was his first trip to Asia), seems to have blunted his edge a bit. Compared to his other efforts, House of Bambo is downright sedate. Camera moves are kept to a minimum, and the dialogue lacks the snap and wit of his better work. There are still some wonderfully Fuller-ian moments, however, such as a scene in which Eddie (Robert Stack), too modest to get out of the bath in front of his new girl Mariko (Shirley Yamaguchi), clumsily uses chopsticks to eat a plate of eggs while in the tub, claiming it's the traditional American way. For the most part, though, the film drags much more than usual for Fuller, and the actors, with the exception of Robert Ryan's sinister turn as the gang's psychotic ringleader Sandy Dawson, are uncharacteristically stiff. While not one of Fuller's best, House of Bamboo still has enough flashes of his unique brilliance to make it worthwhile.