Branded To Kill/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
Perhaps not feeling bored about wasting his time directing an ordinary "Yakuza hitman picture", director Seijun Suzuki chose to go a different route with the script treatment he was given. As a result, Suzuki found himself getting booted out of Nikkatsu studios. Must've been a pretty bad film, eh? Actually, if you check out the finished product, Suzuki was just a little ahead of his time. A time when plenty of subversive, cinematic material would become the norm in Japanese film. So let's dive into this one, shall we? Well, after a couple of viewings of this one, it's come to no surprise that I'm still a bit lost in trying to describe Branded To Kill. Here's what I can give you:
Hanada Goro (Jo Shishido--With his surgically enhanced chipmunk cheeks) is one of the best assassins in the underworld. Obtaining the status of "No. 3 Killer". Hanada is given a few assignments such as securing the safety of an important figure and eliminating a trio of diamond smugglers. Then comes an offer from a mysterious beauty, Misako (Anne Mari) in which she says she'll be killed if he misses his desired target. He ends up missing the target and what follows are betrayals, shoot-outs, wild sex, double-crosses, a duel with "No. 1 Killer" and plenty of rice sniffing.
There's no doubt about it that this type of film is an acquired taste for a majority of viewers. But for cult-nuts like me, this is one for the books. What I love most about surreal material like this is that I'm always eager on where I will be taken next. One particular "place" that we go to (In my most favorite sequence of the movie) is when Hanada finds a film projector with filmed footage of a captive Misako who's on the verge of receiving torture. Hanada puts the projector on play and plants himself in front of the screen. He then seems to be able to magically talk to Misako and it's anyone's guess if he was able to make real contact with Misako in this visually stunning scene. So again, if you don't know what you're getting yourself into with this one, it's best to stay away. But if you were curious to see what might have happened if David Lynch was given the opportunity to make a Yakuza film, this would probably be as close as it could get.
Reviewed by Laydback