Compared to many Masters and auteur filmmakers of Japanese cinema, perhaps the name of Seijun Suzuki is quite less heard or less explored. There’s a reason for it, he made entertainment over logic kind of B gangster genre pulp fiction in the most productive phase of his early career and then didn’t make a single film for a decade or so. But what makes his cinema an original and individual expression is his visual style and play with form of the genre, his combination of irreverent humor to dark nihilistic side of his characters is something to watch in terms of creativity. It’s not exaggeration if I called him Jean Luc Godard of Japanese cinema. His innovation in style is something which took B genre action potboiler to some other level.
Content wise ‘Branded to Kill’ is typical Yakuza/ action movie where guns and bullets, horny dames and urban professional gangster, passionate romance and climactic nemesis plays their routine parts…and one may think ‘what’s this all fuss about Suzuki!’ But in terms of form and style he’s something so unconventional and impressive one and perhaps a reference material for makers like John Woo, Jim Jarmusch, Quentin Tarantino and even Wong Kar Wai. His fractured narration, cutting and editing of images, out of the box camera angles, extreme close ups and frames which looks like modern-pop-art illusion. His fractured and fragmentary narration runs in noir touch where his lead man a.k.a No. 3 killer’s one failed mission and a passionate affair with a woman puts him into peril of another killer who’s stalking him and psychologically breaking him to his nemesis in almost later part of the film. At the same time he’s queer, playful and funny. i.e.-the gangster fetish for smell of boiled rice, his desperation to be No.1 and I just laugh out loudly watching ‘This is the way No.1 works...he tires you and then kills you’.
Recommended to those who want to explore the filmmakers who broke the conventional form of world cinema.