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: Branded to Kill (1967)  ( 703 )
moorman
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« : February 25, 2019, 05:53:59 PM »

This is my FIRST Japanese film and my first Yakuza film.  I had a feeling this was gonna be gritty and it didn't disappoint in that  area.  My experience with the French gangster/noir films lead me to believe the Yakuza films would be gritter than the American films also.  Branded to Kill is a hitman film directed by Seijun Suzuki ( more on him later) with Joe Shishido starring as the hitman Goro Hanada.  The hitmen in Japan have a ranking system.  Hanado is ranked 4. Isao Tamagawa plays Michihiko Yabura, the Yakuza boss who hires Hanado to escort a client to a destination.  Hanado is joined by cab driver Gihei Kasuga ( Hiroshi Minami) who himself was a former hitman but lost his nerve on a mission and took to drinking.  He is trying to redeem himself with this mission.  The plot thens goes off in a few different directions which I will not divulge to afford spoilers.  I will say that the plot involves some well, DIFFERENT plot devices which can leave you confused.

Remember I said this was directed by Seijun Suzuki?   Suzuki was a contract director hired to make this film for Nikkatsu ( which I found out is the oldest Japanese film studio.)  Nikkatsu already had experience with Suzuki and found him to be eccentric and ordered him to make a straight gangster film.  Suzuki did the opposite and literally got fired for making the film which resulted in him later suing Nikkatsu and winning but was blacklisted in Japan for a while by the film industry.  Among the many things Suzuki employed in the film was a extensive use of Jump Cuts. If you are not paying attention you can lose track of whats going on.

This is the first film that I can look at and say that I agree with the studio for firing him.........THEN, at the same time I say they are wrong because the film is a masterpiece.  Its garbage and a masterpiece at the same time, if thats possible, lol.  Suzuki doesn't use storyboards and impliments most of his script ideas on the fly during filming.  He also encourages input from others.  It shows because the film looks like two or three different films meshed together.  The thing is, after a initial theatrical release in which the film bombed, big time, its now considered a cult classic and a masterpiece, influencing such directors as Quentin Tarantino and Jim Jarmusch.  I agree that its a masterpiece and is a must watch for fans of gangster films.

I rank it a shaky 9.5 out of 10...  It can be purchased from Criterion.  I screened it on Amazon Prime.











« : February 25, 2019, 06:02:16 PM moorman »
T.H.
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« #1 : February 26, 2019, 01:58:06 PM »

The good thing is that if you can digest Branded to Kill, there are going to be a lot of great Yakuza movies to watch:

Youth of the Beast (1963) The most traditional and coherent of the famous unofficial Suzuki trilogy, very digestible on a first view.

Tokyo Drifter (1966) Suzuki basically makes an insane musical but with brawls and gunfights instead of showtunes - though there are some tunes in this one.

For Suzuki, I'd also recommend Fighting Elegy (1966). It's not a Yakuza film but it has plenty of insanity and action.


Pale Flower (1964) - One of my ten or so favorite movies. It might be the first of the quiet hitman subgenre. The B&W visuals are gorgeous.

Sympathy for the Underdog (1971) Kinji Fukasaku was know for making bleak, violent no frills crime movies, but this one is a little more romantic or sympathetic (pun unintended) when addressing its leads - I think it's his best work and definitely one of the best Yakuza movies.

Yakuza Graveyard (1976)  Fukasaku's Battles Without Honor and Humanity aka Yakuza Papers series is more popular, but this imo is better, obviously more concise and is a great crash course into Fukasaku.

Black Tight Killers (1966) If you loved Tokyo Drifter, this is a good companion piece. The best of the (non Suzuki) colorful, goofy and insane Japanese crime movies.


These aren't Yakuza movies but Kurosawa's High and Low (1963) is a masterpiece and for my money his best movies. The Bad Sleep Well (1960) and Stray Dog (1949) are his other (then) contemporary crime movies/thrillers. He was definitely a master but the work of his period films can be a little grating due to the acting and customs. To me, Kurosawa's crime movies are the way to go, and at the very least, the best introduction to his work.

« : February 26, 2019, 02:06:48 PM T.H. »


Claudia, we need you to appear in LOST COMMAND. It's gonna revolutionize the war genre..
moorman
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« #2 : February 26, 2019, 05:03:55 PM »

The good thing is that if you can digest Branded to Kill, there are going to be a lot of great Yakuza movies to watch:

Youth of the Beast (1963) The most traditional and coherent of the famous unofficial Suzuki trilogy, very digestible on a first view.

Tokyo Drifter (1966) Suzuki basically makes an insane musical but with brawls and gunfights instead of showtunes - though there are some tunes in this one.

For Suzuki, I'd also recommend Fighting Elegy (1966). It's not a Yakuza film but it has plenty of insanity and action.


Pale Flower (1964) - One of my ten or so favorite movies. It might be the first of the quiet hitman subgenre. The B&W visuals are gorgeous.

Sympathy for the Underdog (1971) Kinji Fukasaku was know for making bleak, violent no frills crime movies, but this one is a little more romantic or sympathetic (pun unintended) when addressing its leads - I think it's his best work and definitely one of the best Yakuza movies.

Yakuza Graveyard (1976)  Fukasaku's Battles Without Honor and Humanity aka Yakuza Papers series is more popular, but this imo is better, obviously more concise and is a great crash course into Fukasaku.

Black Tight Killers (1966) If you loved Tokyo Drifter, this is a good companion piece. The best of the (non Suzuki) colorful, goofy and insane Japanese crime movies.


These aren't Yakuza movies but Kurosawa's High and Low (1963) is a masterpiece and for my money his best movies. The Bad Sleep Well (1960) and Stray Dog (1949) are his other (then) contemporary crime movies/thrillers. He was definitely a master but the work of his period films can be a little grating due to the acting and customs. To me, Kurosawa's crime movies are the way to go, and at the very least, the best introduction to his work.

Thanx for the recommendations.  I'm trying to find Pale Flower and Youth of the Beast.  I will then try the others.  I TRIED to watch Tokyo Drifter and couldn't make it beyond the half way point.  I hated it something bad, lol.  Suzuki should have been fired for THAT one and not Branded to Kill, lol.   Gonna try and find these without having to purchase them first...

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« #3 : March 01, 2019, 12:11:21 PM »

I would give Tokyo Drifter another shot in the future, especially if you love Branded to Kill. Drifter is a token example of a movie that greatly improves upon additional views - the plot settles in a little better and the randomness isn't jarring.



Claudia, we need you to appear in LOST COMMAND. It's gonna revolutionize the war genre..
moorman
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« #4 : March 01, 2019, 05:45:53 PM »

I would give Tokyo Drifter another shot in the future, especially if you love Branded to Kill. Drifter is a token example of a movie that greatly improves upon additional views - the plot settles in a little better and the randomness isn't jarring.
   I just might do that.  Another film that I'm pretty sure I would like is " A Colt is My Passport".   It looks more straightforward...

moorman
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« #5 : May 29, 2019, 08:26:14 AM »

The good thing is that if you can digest Branded to Kill, there are going to be a lot of great Yakuza movies to watch:

Youth of the Beast (1963) The most traditional and coherent of the famous unofficial Suzuki trilogy, very digestible on a first view.

Tokyo Drifter (1966) Suzuki basically makes an insane musical but with brawls and gunfights instead of showtunes - though there are some tunes in this one.

For Suzuki, I'd also recommend Fighting Elegy (1966). It's not a Yakuza film but it has plenty of insanity and action.


Pale Flower (1964) - One of my ten or so favorite movies. It might be the first of the quiet hitman subgenre. The B&W visuals are gorgeous.

Sympathy for the Underdog (1971) Kinji Fukasaku was know for making bleak, violent no frills crime movies, but this one is a little more romantic or sympathetic (pun unintended) when addressing its leads - I think it's his best work and definitely one of the best Yakuza movies.

Yakuza Graveyard (1976)  Fukasaku's Battles Without Honor and Humanity aka Yakuza Papers series is more popular, but this imo is better, obviously more concise and is a great crash course into Fukasaku.

Black Tight Killers (1966) If you loved Tokyo Drifter, this is a good companion piece. The best of the (non Suzuki) colorful, goofy and insane Japanese crime movies.


These aren't Yakuza movies but Kurosawa's High and Low (1963) is a masterpiece and for my money his best movies. The Bad Sleep Well (1960) and Stray Dog (1949) are his other (then) contemporary crime movies/thrillers. He was definitely a master but the work of his period films can be a little grating due to the acting and customs. To me, Kurosawa's crime movies are the way to go, and at the very least, the best introduction to his work.

I got around to watching Pale Flower and High and Low.  Both are masterpieces.  Pale Flower predated Le Samourai and looks like it MIGHT have influenced it.  They are both similar as far as the subject matter and the Samourai Code. The director of Pale Flower said he got the inspiration for that film from a scene in " Odds Against Tomorrow".  Pale Flower is just a gorgeous masterpiece.  The cinematography, scoring and acting are fabulous.

High and Low is just hands down one of the best crime/noir films I've seen.  Again, you get a grittier version of the American Noir.  The cinematography, plot and acting are just fabulous here.  Its funny that Kurosawa  is known more for his Japanese " period" films, but so far I'm liking his noirs better.  " The Bad Sleep Well" was on its way to being a masterpiece until he derailed it with a ending that the Hays Code would have been proud of.

I'm looking at more Yakuza films and will post the updates...

« : May 29, 2019, 08:28:27 AM moorman »
dave jenkins
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« #6 : May 29, 2019, 11:19:31 AM »

I got around to watching Pale Flower and High and Low.  Both are masterpieces.  Pale Flower predated Le Samourai and looks like it MIGHT have influenced it.  They are both similar as far as the subject matter and the Samourai Code. The director of Pale Flower said he got the inspiration for that film from a scene in " Odds Against Tomorrow".  Pale Flower is just a gorgeous masterpiece.  The cinematography, scoring and acting are fabulous.

High and Low is just hands down one of the best crime/noir films I've seen.  Again, you get a grittier version of the American Noir.  The cinematography, plot and acting are just fabulous here. 
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Ya measly skunk! A-campin’ on my trail and lettin’ me do the work an’ then shootin’ me in the back. IN THE BACK!
moorman
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« #7 : May 29, 2019, 12:41:14 PM »


Sympathy for the Underdog (1971) Kinji Fukasaku was know for making bleak, violent no frills crime movies, but this one is a little more romantic or sympathetic (pun unintended) when addressing its leads - I think it's his best work and definitely one of the best Yakuza movies.



I almost forgot this one.  It looks interesting also. I will update you...

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« #8 : May 30, 2019, 07:24:03 PM »

I almost forgot this one.  It looks interesting also. I will update you...

Glad you enjoy those movies as much as me, Dj et al

Definitely post your thoughts when you get around to Sympathy for the Underdog.

I know it’s not a yakuza movie but Walter Hill’s The Driver (1978) is one of the best quiet crime movies, for a lack of a better phrase.



Claudia, we need you to appear in LOST COMMAND. It's gonna revolutionize the war genre..
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